Cathay Pacific in its first back-to-back loss in 71 years

Image source, AFP

Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific has posted its first back-to-back annual loss since the company was founded in 1946.

The airline blamed intense competition from low-cost Chinese carriers and higher fuel prices, among other issues, for the result.

Cathay is part way through a huge three-year cost cutting programme.

In March last year, it posted its first annual loss in eight years.

The airline operates mainly in Asia, Europe and North America, but is facing some of its toughest competition from low-cost Chinese carriers, among others, on routes covering Hong Kong, mainland China and across South East Asia.

"Overcapacity in passenger markets led to intense competition with other airlines and continued pressure on yields on many of our key routes," the firm said in a statement.

Cathay's cargo business, however, saw "robust demand" during the year, it said, and there was some improvement in its premium passenger sector.

The company also said it saw a positive second half of the year, with losses in that period lower than those in each of the two preceding half years.

Cathay's Hong Kong-listed shares were up more than 1% in early afternoon trade.