Despite 2017 deficit, outlook upbeat for recovering Cathay Pacific

The Cathay Pacific Group is seeing progress from its three-year transformation programme, as a strong cargo business, a weaker US dollar and improved premium class passenger demand come together to deliver a less-than-expected annual loss for the company.

For 2017, the Cathay Pacific Group reported an attributable loss of over HK$1.2 billion (US$160 million), up from HK$575 million in 2016.

This is the airline’s biggest annual loss in nine years, but it was slimmer than expected as a rebound in the cargo market helped offset fuel hedging losses and stiff competition

However, recovery was underway in 2H2017 as the Cathay Pacific Group reported an attributable profit of HK$792 million, compared to an attributable loss of HK$2.1 billion in 1H2017 and an attributable loss of HK$928 million in 2H2016.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon reported an attributable loss of HK$1.5 billion in 2H2017, compared to HK$2.8 billion in 1H2017 and an attributable loss of HK$2.6 billion in 2H2016.

Changes implemented include a reorganisation of the head office, and appointing new management and leadership teams. Six hundred jobs were reportedly slashed as part of the redundancy plan last year.

The Cathay Pacific Group is determined to prioritise its transformation programme in 2018 to better contain costs and revive earnings.

Cathay Pacific chairman John Slosar said: “Our priorities for 2018 (include) our transformation programme, changing the way that we work so as to better contain costs which will strengthen our passenger business further. We are confident of a successful outcome from these efforts.

“We also look to benefit from a slowing of the decline in passenger yields as global economic conditions improve.”

Slosar added that the airline is improving its competitive position by expanding route network, increasing frequencies on popular routes and buying more fuel-efficient aircraft.

The airline will introduce services to Brussels in March 2018, to Dublin in June 2018 and to Washington D.C. in September 2018. It will start flying to Barcelona all year round in April 2018, and seasonal services will be introduced to Copenhagen between May and October 2018 and to Cape Town between November 2018 and February 2019.

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