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Cathay Pacific reports first annual profit since 2019

Cathay Pacific's net profit of US$1.25 billion was the first since 2019
Cathay Pacific's net profit of US$1.25 billion was the first since 2019 - Copyright AFP Peter PARKS
Cathay Pacific's net profit of US$1.25 billion was the first since 2019 - Copyright AFP Peter PARKS

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific on Wednesday reported its first annual net profit in four years, citing “significant pent-up demand for travel” following the pandemic.

Chair Patrick Healy said that “2023 was our first profitable year since 2019” and added that the imbalance between supply and travel demand “resulted in high yields and contributed to a strong financial performance in both halves of the year”.

The airline said profit surged to US$1.25 billion last year, compared with a loss of $847 million in 2022, after hitting its target of operating at 70 percent of pre-pandemic passenger flights during the 12 months.

Cathay also posted an operating profit of $1.9 billion in 2023, the highest on record, according to Bloomberg News, and announced its first dividend payment since 2019, at HK$0.43 per ordinary share.

Hong Kong’s aviation sector has yet to fully recover from the impact of pandemic-era policies, which imposed strict rules on travellers and kept the city internationally isolated before they were lifted in late 2022.

The airline has struggled to catch up with regional rivals such as Singapore Airlines, and is racing to rebuild its capacity but is facing a manpower crunch.

Cathay saw a spate of flight cancellations during the Christmas and New Year holidays, which the company attributed to underestimating the pilot levels needed during the seasonal flu peak in Hong Kong.

“This incident has negatively impacted our brand reputation and the confidence that Hong Kong people and our customers have in Cathay,” CEO Ronald Lam said in an internal memo at the time.

The airline said in January it has signed up 100 cabin crew via its first recruitment drive in mainland China.

AFP
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