Cathay Pacific Reports First Operating Profit Since 2019

HONG KONG (AFP-Jiji) — Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific on Wednesday reported its first annual operating profit since 2019 as the airline fights to return to pre-pandemic flight capacity.

The airline has struggled to catch up with regional rivals such as Singapore Airlines as the city’s government only began axing harsh pandemic curbs — including mandatory hotel quarantine and strict testing requirements — in the second half of last year.

“Cathay Pacific has experienced three challenging years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 2022 very much being a year of two halves,” chairman Patrick Healy said in a statement announcing the results, referring to a “marked improvement” in performance later in the year.

The company said in its statement Wednesday that it operated at one-third of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity in December but expects to reach 70% by the end of 2023.

It reported an operating profit of $3.55 billion Hong Kong dollars ($452 million) last year, but suffered a loss attributable to shareholders of HK$6.5 billion, weighed down by losses incurred by its associate companies.

Cathay faced record losses in 2020 as the pandemic hit, and was dealt a further blow last year when Hong Kong tightened travel restrictions amid its worst-ever coronavirus outbreak.

It carried 2.8 million passengers last year — nearly four times that of 2021 — which brought in $1.7 billion in revenue.