Cathay Pacific reports 83% plunge in annual profit

A Cathay Pacific aircraft pictured at Frankfurt airport last month The profitability of many global airlines has been hurt by the volatility in fuel costs

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has posted an 83% plunge in profits amid higher fuel costs and a drop in demand for corporate travel.

The carrier made a net profit of 916m Hong Kong dollars ($118m; £80m) in 2012, down from HK$5.5bn a year ago.

Cathay said that weak cargo demand and increased competition in the region also hurt its profitability.

The airline industry has been hit hard by an economic slowdown in key markets such as the US and Europe.

The slowdown, which has hurt consumer demand, has seen companies cut back on corporate travel, a key driver of growth for airlines.

"Premium class yields were affected by travel restrictions imposed by corporations," Christopher Pratt, chairman of Cathay Pacific said in a statement.

"Economic uncertainty, particularly in the eurozone countries, and an increasingly competitive environment added to the difficulties."

Mr Pratt added that high fuel costs had hurt Cathay's profitability, especially on long-haul routes, which it said were dominated by "older, less fuel-efficient, Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A340-300 aircraft".

Cathay has taken various steps in recent months, including offering unpaid leave to its cabin crew, reducing capacity on some long-haul flights and retiring less fuel-efficient planes, in an attempt to cut its costs.

It said that while the measures had helped it bring down its costs, "the reductions were not enough to offset in full the effects of high fuel prices and weak revenues".

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