Cathay Pacific posts first half loss amid fierce competition

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific has blamed fierce competition as it reported a loss in the first half of the year.

The airline said it lost 2.1bn Hong Kong dollars in the six months to June, compared with a HK353m profit from the previous year.

It said revenue was nearly flat at HK45.9bn.

Chairman John Slosar said: "It was a challenging first half. The performance of our core airlines was disappointing."

The company also operates Asia-focused regional carrier Cathay Dragon.

Mr Slosar said the biggest factor was strong competition from rivals such as budget carriers around Asia and airlines based in mainland China, like China Southern and China Eastern, which have been flooding the market with passenger seats on key routes.

Fuel, the airline's single biggest expense, also ate into earnings because of both rising oil prices and historic contracts which locked in fuel bills at higher levels than today.

Another factor was the strengthening dollar, which raises costs for visitors to the city and cuts into profits earned in other currencies after they are converted back to the Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar.

The latest numbers add to the financial woes at Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's biggest carrier.

Earlier this year it announced it was embarking on sweeping lay-offs after posting a full-year loss of $74m for 2016, which was Cathay's first annual loss in nearly a decade.

The company is axing almost 600 jobs, including 190 managers, from its 16,500-strong workforce in its biggest round of cuts since 1998.

The cuts are part of a three-year corporate overhaul which the upmarket airline, founded in 1946, is carrying out as it aims to keep up with its rivals.

AP

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