Cathay Pacific posts first-half net loss
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HONG KONG, China, Aug 8 AFP
August 08 2012, 3:36PM
Cathay Pacific Airways has posted a first-half net loss of $HK935 million (about $A115 million), citing higher fuel prices, strong competition and economic instability in Europe.
The loss for the six months ended June 30 compared with a first-half net profit of $HK2.81 billion a year earlier, representing a 133 per cent reversal for the blue-chip Asian airline. Revenue rose 4.4 per cent to HK$48.86 billion.
Company chairman Christopher Pratt said on Wednesday the carrier's business had been "significantly affected by the persistently high price of jet fuel, passenger yields coming under pressure and weak air cargo demand".
"These factors are common to the aviation industry as a whole. Airlines around the world are being adversely affected by the current business environment," he said in a statement.
"Our profits from associated companies, including Air China, also showed a marked decline."
He said a recent reduction in the fuel price could "provide welcome relief".
"We will continue to take whatever measures are necessary to protect the business, managing short-term difficulties while remaining committed to our long-term strategy," he said.
"Our financial position remains strong and we are in a good position to deal with our current challenges."
Cathay shares were down 5.1 per cent in afternoon trade at $HK12.26. They had already been sold down in May after the company issued a statement warning that its interim results could be disappointing.
To save on fuel costs, the airline plans to reduce passenger services on trans-Pacific routes to enable the more fuel-efficient Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to replace older Boeing 747-400s.
It ordered six Airbus A350-900s in January and in August agreed to buy 10 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft and convert 16 previously ordered Airbus A350-900s into Airbus A350-1000s.
"The Cathay Pacific Group will take delivery of 19 aircraft in 2012. This will improve the operational efficiency of the fleet," Pratt said, adding that a total of 92 planes were on order for delivery up to 2019.
Plans to retire the fleet of less fuel efficient Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft would be accelerated, he said.
Despite the efficiency drive, Cathay remained committed to maintaining its network and had increased some services in Asia, where demand was "relatively robust and fuel accounts for a smaller portion of operating costs".
It boosted frequencies on routes to Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand in March.
Cathay carried 14.3 million passengers in the first six months, a rise of 8.6 per cent.
"The premium class load factor was adversely affected, with employees of major corporations travelling less," Pratt said.
"The high cost of fuel made it more difficult to operate profitably, particularly on long-haul routes operated by older, less fuel-efficient ... aircraft."
The company said economic instability in Europe had a "significant effect" on the business, with routes to continental Europe "generally weak".
By Stephen Coates