Cathay Pacific CEO warns of ‘challenging and uncertain’ short-term outlook

Darren Wood
By Darren Wood November 14, 2019 12:08

Cathay Pacific CEO warns of ‘challenging and uncertain’ short-term outlook

Cathay Pacific has further lowered its full-year profit forecast as it issued a warning that the second half of 2019 will come in lower than expected due to continued protests in Hong Kong.

Ronald Lam, Cathay Pacific’s chief customer and commercial officer warned that the short-term outlook remains “challenging and uncertain”.

He said: “We expect our second-half financial results will be significantly below those of our first-half.”

Cathay Pacific said its drop in business was due to reduced passenger volume, less busy flights and lower airfares. In response, the airline will cut passenger flight capacity against its original schedule by 2 to 4% between August and October, and 6 to 7% for November and December.

Demand for flights to and from Mainland China continued to fall at a steep rate, declining 21.9% in October. China flights typically make up one-fifth of Cathay Pacific’s daily flights. October was the third month in a row in which Cathay has seen demand in its China market fall more than 20%.

The demand bright spot for Cathay came from Europe, which increased 5.4%.

In October, demand for travel into Hong Kong remained weak with inbound passenger traffic seeing a year-on-year decline of 35%, consistent with the trend seen in both August and September.

The drop in outbound Hong Kong traffic was 13% in October, again similar to the trend over the past two months.

The group has also said it is looking to optimise passenger fleet of its airlines – Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and HK Express.

It’s a move which the group hopes will allow each airline to achieve its full development potential by leveraging respective unique strengths.

In total, the group has existing orders for 65 new aircraft that it will receive by 2024, as part of the fleet modernisation plan. This includes the delivery of 21 state-of-the-art Boeing 777-9 aircraft, 12 modern Airbus A350 and 32 A321neo aircraft between 2020 and 2024.

Following a comprehensive review of its airlines’ fleets, the group has decided that Cathay Dragon will operate the first 16 of these narrow-body A321neo aircraft upon delivery from 2020 to 2022. The remaining 16 aircraft, meanwhile, will join the HK Express fleet from 2022.

Darren Wood
By Darren Wood November 14, 2019 12:08