AFP – Cathay Pacific on Wednesday said profits plunged in 2019 as it reeled from political unrest in Hong Kong, while it warned financial losses lay ahead owing to the spread of the coronavirus.
The flagship carrier was hammered throughout the second half of last year as violent pro-democracy protests raged for months in Hong Kong, sparked by widespread public anger at Beijing’s rule.
The protests, which saw battles between police and protesters rage for seven straight months, hammered tourist arrivals into the city, traditionally one of the world’s busiest transport hubs.
On Wednesday the flagship carrier reported an attributable profit of HK$1.7 billion (US$220 million) for 2019, a significant drop from the HK$2.3 billion it made in 2018.
And it warned of slipping into the red as airlines around the world suffer the huge travel disruptions caused by the rapid global spread of the deadly coronavirus.
“We expect to incur a substantial loss for the first half of 2020,” chairman Patrick Healy said.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 since January 2020 has resulted in a challenging operational environment, and will adversely impact the Group’s financial performance and liquidity position,” the airline said in a statement.
The last time the airline made a loss was in the first half of 2018.
It then embarked on a major overhaul that brought the carrier back into the black but Cathay has found itself hammered by events beyond its control.