Cathay Pacific expects annual loss despite second-half improvement

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (0293.HK) on Friday forecast a “substantial” annual loss even though second-half results are expected to improve sequentially thanks to an uptick in travel and air cargo demand.

The airline carried over five times more passengers in October than last year, although the figure was 85.4% lower than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

It warned that second-half results from its associates, the majority of which are recognised three months in arrears, will still include significant losses.

Cathay reported a first-half loss of HK$5 billion ($639.11 million) and analysts expect it to record an annual net loss of HK$3.8 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES estimates. It reported a HK$5.5 billion loss last year.

Still, the company said it was on track to achieve its target of operating at up to one-third of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity levels by the end of 2022.

“Travel demand for the rest of 2022 continues to improve and is promising for the Christmas holiday period,” Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said.

Earlier this month, Cathay said it expected to operate at 70% of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity by the end of 2023, up from a planned 33% by the end of 2022, and aimed to return to full pre-pandemic capacity by the end of 2024.

($1 = 7.8231 Hong Kong dollars)