Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific yesterday reported losses had narrowed in the first half after an “extremely difficult start” to the year, but said its capacity will improve in coming months as travel sentiment improves.
The $637 million loss in January-June was narrower than the $968 million deficit suffered in the same period last year, as the airline benefited from strong cargo demand and cost-cutting measures.
Chairman Patrick Healey said in a statement that the first few months were “particularly unfavourable” as pandemic-related travel restrictions severely constrained Cathay’s flight operations and greatly affected demand for travel.
But he added that the airline was gearing up for borders reopening and expected a stronger second-half.
Cathay aims to boost passenger flight capacity to a quarter of pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022, while it is looking to lift cargo capacity to 65 percent, Healey said.
The airline carried 335,000 passengers in the first half of the year, more than double that of the same period in 2021, bringing in $263 million in revenue. Income from the cargo unit jumped 9.3 percent to $1.5 billion.
Total revenue was up 17 percent on-year at $2.4 billion.
The airline operated just 29 destinations in January, compared with more than 100 before the pandemic.
Cathay is bringing aircraft parked overseas back to Hong Kong and is aiming to hire more than 4,000 front-line employees over the next 18 to 24 months, Healey said.
In June, Hong Kong also extended the drawdown period of a $1 billion bridge loan to Cathay – the second time in two years – as part of a $5 billion government bailout to help the airline weather the pandemic.
Hong Kong’s home carrier suffered a reputational blow earlier this year when a coronavirus outbreak was traced to two of its flight attendants who breached their quarantine rules. They were fired and later prosecuted.
Hurriyet Daily News