Cathay Pacific flags up to $1b loss in 2022, but says outlook is upbeat

Cathay Pacific dismal numbers for 2022 reflect those for other airlines as well. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - Cathay Pacific Airways on Friday forecast a fiscal 2022 loss of between HK$6.4 billion (S$1.08 billion) and HK$7 billion, but highlighted an upbeat outlook after Hong Kong and mainland China lifted quarantine rules.

Analysts expected a loss of HK$4.17 billion for the 12 months ended Dec 31, according to Refinitiv data, and the airline reported a loss of HK$5.53 billion in fiscal 2021.

Cathay’s downbeat outlook follows a forecast by the company in November of a “substantial” annual loss, even though the carrier said at that time its second-half results were expected to improve sequentially.

The dull forecast echoes those from other airlines as well.

Air China reported disappointing metrics during the month of December, as many Chinese airlines struggled with capacity constraints.

However, following the easing of pandemic-related travel restrictions, Cathay chief executive Ronald Lam on Friday noted a trend of continuous improvement in operations and financial performance for the airline and its subsidiaries in the second half of 2022.

Demand for travel to short-haul leisure destinations shot up recently, with the company anticipating continued strength in demand in January and during Chinese New Year, Mr Lam said.

While the passenger market improved as passenger and crew quarantine rules were eased, the air cargo market was weaker in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared with a year earlier.

Cathay, which aims to operate at 70 per cent of pre-pandemic passenger capacity by the end of 2023, said capacity decreased by 67.8 per cent in December when compared with December 2019 levels.

The airline said in October it planned to hire 4,000 staff over the next 18 to 24 months to rebuild staffing levels cut during the pandemic. REUTERS

Follow ST on LinkedIn and stay updated on the latest career news, insights and more.