Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Losses Narrow As COVID Restrictions Ease

Published date: .

- airline Airways said on Wednesday that losses in the first half of the year narrowed as a relaxation in quarantine rules boosted passenger numbers.

But it cautioned that quarantine restrictions on its crew were limiting the airline's ability to increase flight capacity.

The company reported losses of about USD 5 billion dollars (USD 637 million) in the first six months, down from 7.57 billion dollars (USD 964.5 million) in the same period last year.

Hong Kong relaxed strict quarantine rules from 14 to seven days in mandatory hotel quarantine earlier this year, and to just three days from Friday.

It still remains one of the few places in the world, together with mainland China, to require mandatory quarantine for inbound travellers.

Such measures have limited recovery for Cathay and the city's tourism industry, as travellers opt for other destinations that have opened up completely.

Cathay's first-half revenue grew 17 per cent to 18.6 billion Hong Kong dollars, driven largely by an increase in passengers following the easing of quarantine measures.

Passenger load factor -- which measures how many passengers are taking up capacity -- was about 59 per cent, up from nearly 19 per cent in the same period last year.

Cathay said that it aims to be operating at 65 per cent of pre-COVID cargo capacity, and 25 per cent of pre-COVID passenger capacity by December.

In the short term, however, it is quite clear that Hong Kong has fallen far behind other international aviation hubs, and that our regional competitors have recovered much faster from the disruptions caused by the global pandemic, Chairman Patrick Healy told at a conference on Wednesday.

He also said that the city's quarantine requirements on crew constrained its flight capacity.

These ongoing constraints also restrict our ability to mount additional capacity despite growing demand, he said.

Once all COVID-related restrictions on aircrew can be lifted, we will then progressively be able to increase both cargo and passenger capacity in the months that follow.

Cathay's shares in Hong Kong were up 1 per cent following its earnings release.

The city's airline is lagging behind competitors like Singapore Airlines, which last month reported a net profit of 370 million Singapore dollars (USD 268.5 million).

Singapore has lifted COVID-19 entry restrictions and does not require mandatory quarantine for tourists.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)