Coronavirus pandemic

Cathay Pacific flags 'very bleak' outlook as it bleeds red ink

SYDNEY • Cathay Pacific Airways made an unaudited loss of HK$4.5 billion (S$827 million) at its full-service airlines during the January to April period, it said yesterday, flagging a "very bleak" outlook as the coronavirus crisis grounded planes globally.

The Hong Kong-based airline said its passenger numbers last month dropped by 99.6 per cent compared with last year, as it flew a skeleton network due to a ban on transit traffic in the Asian financial hub and little outbound demand.

"At this stage, we still see no immediate signs of improvement," Cathay chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said in a statement. "We are evaluating all aspects of our business to ensure that we remain strong and competitive when we emerge from this crisis."

Cathay last month laid off 286 cabin crew based in the United States and furloughed 201 pilots based in Australia and Britain.

The HK$4.5 billion loss at full-service carriers Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon in the four months ended April 30 compared with a previously announced unaudited loss of HK$2 billion for the month of February.

In the first half of last year, before the pandemic and widespread protests in Hong Kong, the airlines posted a profit of HK$615 million. Those figures do not account for other businesses, including low-cost carrier Hong Kong Express, as well as Cathay Pacific's stake in Air China and its catering unit.

Rival Singapore Airlines on Thursday reported its first-ever annual loss, citing poor fuel hedging bets and the collapse in demand driven by the pandemic.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2020, with the headline 'Cathay Pacific flags 'very bleak' outlook as it bleeds red ink'. Print Edition | Subscribe