Aerospace & Defense

Cathay Pacific bets on robust cargo demand to improve second-half results

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Nov 17 (Reuters) - Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (0293.HK) said on Wednesday it expects second-half results to improve considerably from the first half, helped by exceptionally strong air cargo demand.

The outlook comes as the airline continues to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic-related travel restrictions, operating at only 10% of the pre-pandemic passenger capacity in October and posting a 97.2% decline in passenger numbers from 2019.

"October was more challenging for our passenger business than recent months. Demand for student travel, which had been robust over the past few months, tapered down quickly from early-October," Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam said in a statement.

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However, a strong cargo season in the second-half provided a bright spot, Cathay said, to the extent that the airline achieved close to operating cash break-even for the four-month period from July to October.

A sign of Cathay Pacific is seen at its headquarters Cathay City in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Lam Yik/File Photo

Reopening of Australian borders for vaccinated citizens also aided the recovery, Cathay said.

"We have already added more capacity and seen an increase in flight bookings," the company said while referring to Australia.

The airline, which had posted a net loss of HK$7.57 billion ($972.01 million) in the first half, still expects annual loss for 2021 to be substantial.

($1 = 7.7880 Hong Kong dollars)

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Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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