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Cathay reports profit rise - but not cargo

HONG KONG: The Cathay Pacific Group has reported a jump in net profit to HK$2.62 billion for 2013 compared to HK$862 million the previous year. Turnover increased by just over one percent year-on-year to HK$100.5 billion.

The group attributes the profit improvement to a combination of passenger growth and cost-containment. The airline's cargo business, affected by weak demand since April 2011, produced revenue of HK$23.66 billion in 2013 – a 3.6 percent drop compared to the previous year.

Yield for Cathay Pacific and Dragonair fell 4.1 percent to HK$2.32 as measured in freight-tonne kilometres as the overall load factor declined 2.4 points to 61.8 percent. The airline continued to adjust capacity to meet demand during the year with more cargo carried in the bellies of passenger aircraft to cut costs.

Cathay Pacific 747-8FIn a bid to further reduce operating and fuel costs over the long term, last year the airline's new cargo terminal at Hong Kong became fully operational; it took delivery of five B747-8 freighters, cancelled an order for eight B777 freighters and sold four B747-400 freighter conversions. In December Cathay sold an additional six B747-400 freighters.

The airline said there was a 30.6 percent drop in profits to HK$781 million in its subsidiary businesses mainly due to the one-time start-up costs of its new cargo terminal and the performance of its joint-venture with Air China. This year Cathay says it will improve the partnership by operating cost-efficient B777 freighters together with a new ground-handling company, Shanghai International Airport Services, at Hongqiao and Pudong.

Cathay and Dragonair carried a total of 101,295 tonnes in February - a drop of 2.4 percent compared to the same month in 2013. In the first two months of the year, overall tonnage dropped 1.8 percent and capacity increased 3.9 percent .

Mark Sutch, general manager Cargo Sales & Marketing commented: "Demand in the key Hong Kong and Mainland China markets plummeted following the beginning of Chinese New Year and the pick-up after the holiday was slow. However, by the middle of the month we began to see an increase in demand on the North America and Europe lanes and also for intra-Asia traffic, and by the end of February we were operating close to a full schedule. The Americas will remain a key focus for our cargo business and March sees two new destinations added to our freighter network – Mexico City and Columbus, Ohio."

Together with its oneworld partner Qatar Airways, Cathay will also begin a daily service to Doha this month with an A330-200.

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