Cathay Pacific reports profit but warns of HK protests impact

Staff from the airline took part in a general strike on Monday, as well as earlier protests that have rocked Hong Kong.

    Chairman John Slosar remains optimistic about better results in the second half of the year [File: Bobby Yip/Reuters]
    Chairman John Slosar remains optimistic about better results in the second half of the year [File: Bobby Yip/Reuters]

    Hong Kong's flagship airline Cathay Pacific has warned that increasingly violent protests in the financial hub had hit booking demand.

    Announcing interim results on Wednesday that showed the airline in the black after huge losses in the first half of last year, Chairman John Slosar warned of further impact on the business in response to the unrest and the global trade tensions.

    "Geopolitical and trade tensions are expected to continue to affect the global economy and, in turn, demand for air travel and air freight," he said. 

    "The protests in Hong Kong reduced inbound passenger traffic in July and are adversely impacting forward bookings," Slosar added.

    The previously troubled airline reported first-half earnings of 1.35 billion Hong Kong dollars ($172m), compared with a loss of 263 billion Hong Kong dollars ($33.5bn) in the same period last year.

    Despite the uncertainty, Slosar said he still expects to achieve even better results in the second half of the year, as is usual in the aviation industry.

    No end in sight to unrest

    Images of clashes between masked protesters and police firing tear gas in the streets of Hong Kong have made continued headlines, with no end in sight to the unrest.

    What began as demonstrations against a now-benched controversial extradition bill that could have seen suspected criminals extradited to mainland China, have developed into wider calls for governmental reform and democracy in the semi-autonomous territory. 

    On Monday, more than 160 flights at the city's airport were listed as cancelled as general strike caused transport chaos in the city.

    Many of these flights were operated by Cathay Pacific, with its flight attendants union confirming that some of its members had walked out.


    The union supported a rally at the airport last month, encouraging its members to join protesters who were handing out leaflets to new arrivals explaining the political upheaval.

    Analysts have warned that the unrest could signal further economic woes for the city's sluggish economy and cause long-lasting damage to business confidence.

    But on Wednesday, Slosar said the airline would continue to make "significant investments in strengthening Hong Kong's standing as Asia's largest international aviation hub."

    "Cathay Pacific has been Hong Kong's home airline for over seven decades and we remain resolutely committed to this wonderful city," he added.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies