Cathay Pacific posts worst half since 2003 as fuel costs surge

Marion Dakers
CATHAY Pacific Airways yesterday posted its worst first-half loss since 2003, surprising investors with complaints of weak cargo traffic, high fuel costs and a fall in premium passengers.

Hong Kong-listed Cathay, which issued a profit warning in March, reported a net loss of HK$935m (£77m) for the six months to the end of June, its weakest performance since the outbreak of a viral epidemic in 2003 spooked Asian flyers.

European freight business was particularly slow in the half, knocking cargo revenues down 7.6 per cent to HK$11.9bn.

In a further blow, the firm reported that fuel costs rose 6.5 per cent on a year ago, accounting for 41.6 per cent of total operating expenses.

Passenger numbers rose 8.6 per cent to 14.3m, but the firm said yields came under pressure due to a slide in premium traffic.

Shares fell 4.3 per cent yesterday.

Chairman Christopher Pratt said: “Aviation will always be a volatile and challenging industry and our business will always be subject to factors... which are beyond our control.”