(Yicai Global) Aug. 23 -- Cathay Pacific Airlines, Hong Kong's flagship carrier, returned to profit in the first half, but forecast a revenue squeeze from this month.
"Our earnings this month and afterwards are likely to come under great pressure," Lin Shaobo, the airline's customer and business president, said yesterday.
Inbound travel to Hong Kong is being hit because of anti-government street protests that started early last month. Hong Kong International Airport, one of the world's busiest, was even forced to suspend flights last week when demonstrators brought chaos to the hub and clashed with police.
"Passenger counts to Hong Kong for business and tourism have plummeted, and passenger traffic departing it has also started to tail off, especially for short-haul flights to the mainland, Taiwan, South Korea and Southeast Asia," Lin said.
For the six months through June, net profit stood at HKD1.35 billion (USD172 million), Cathay Pacific said in a semi-annual earnings report yesterday. It lost HKD263 million in the year-earlier period. Revenue gained 0.9 percent to HKD53.5 billion.
The carrier's passenger load factor was 84.2 percent, basically static from last year, but revenue from passenger flights fell 0.9 percent, a victim of bruising competition, increasing numbers of transit passengers and unfavorable exchange rate shifts.
The airline and its Cathay Dragon unit transported around 3.3 million passengers last month, up 4 percent over the same period last year, but the passenger load factor fell 0.6 percentage point to 86 percent. They carried 170,000 tons of cargo and mail last month, an 8.2 percent decline from the same time last year.
Editor: Ben Armour