Cathay Pacific Airways today announced its interim results for the first six months of 2003. The Group reported a loss attributable to shareholders of HK$1,241 million compared to a profit of HK$1,412 million in 2002. Turnover fell 20.9% to HK$12,275 million.
The Group enjoyed a very strong first quarter. However, the outbreak of atypical pneumonia, or SARS, had a devastating impact on passenger numbers in the second quarter. The company issued its first ever profit warning in April, parked 22 aircraft and reduced its schedule by cancelling up to half its normal services in May and June. Passenger yield dropped 5.7% to HK42.8 cents.
The airline`s cargo business sustained strong growth, carrying 406,000 tonnes, up 5.2% on the same period last year, partly due to the integration of AHK`s European services since July 2002. SARS had the effect of reducing cargo capacity because of the cancelled passenger flights. This shortfall was in part offset by the reactivation of a Boeing 747-200F freighter, which had been parked since late 2001. A third weekly freighter service was also added to Milan. However, cargo yields fell by 6% to HK$1.72 per tonne kilometre.
Cathay Pacific`s affiliates and associate companies were also adversely affected by SARS.
Cathay Pacific Chairman James Hughes-Hallett said: “This was without a doubt the most challenging period in Cathay Pacific`s history. The fact that we survived and are now able to work towards our recovery is due entirely to the admirable teamwork of our staff and management and our shareholders` continued confidence in the company. We are progressively resuming services and helping to rebuild the tourism industry and local economy of Hong Kong. Looking ahead, we will continue with plans to grow our fleet, strengthen our network and enhance Hong Kong`s position as Asia`s leading aviation and logistics hub.”