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Cathay Pacific narrows H1 loss, eyes better end to year

HONG KONG (AFP) – 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 USD637 million loss in January-June was narrower than the USD968 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 per cent, Healey said.

CEO of Cathay Pacific Augustus Tang, Chairman Patrick Healy and Chief Operations and Service Delivery Officer Greg Hughes attend the press conference for the company’s interim results in Hong Kong. PHOTO: AP

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 USD263 million in revenue. Income from the cargo unit jumped 9.3 per cent to USD1.5 billion.

Total revenue was up 17 per cent on-year at USD2.4 billion.

Hong Kong has taken tentative steps toward reopening its borders after being internationally isolated for two and a half years owing to strict COVID rules for travellers.

On Monday authorities said visitors would now have to spend just three days in hotel quarantine, down from seven and much lower than the three weeks earlier in the year.

Cathay praised the adjustments as “positive steps” but pressed the government to “urgently provide a clear roadmap” to remove all pandemic-related restrictions on passengers and aircrew.

The firm’s ability to operate more flights “continues to be severely constrained by a bottleneck on crewing resources under the existing quarantine requirements”, Healey said yesterday.

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