The Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific, struck down by the coronavirus, announced on Wednesday a historic net loss of 9.9 billion Hong Kong dollars (1.2 billion francs) in the first half, a result that had been anticipated.
“The first six months of 2020 have been the most difficult for the Cathay Pacific group in more than 70 years of history,” Group chairman Patrick Healy said in a statement.
Like all air carriers, Cathay is bearing the brunt of the impact of the pandemic and the collapse of international traffic. But the closing of the borders weighs all the more on the Hong Kong company as it has no internal market on which to fall back.
From January to June, the company transported 4.4 million passengers, or 76% less than in the first half of 2019. In April and May, the group carried on average only 500 passengers per day, the international airport of Hong Kong offering the sad spectacle of dozens of planes pinned to the ground.
“The impact of Covid-19 on the group’s activity and the global economy is unprecedented,” continued Mr. Healy. “The global health crisis has decimated the transport sector and the future is very uncertain, with most analysts suggesting that it will take years to return to pre-crisis levels.”
This situation is all the more dramatic for the company as it had already experienced a chaotic second half of 2019 due to the political crisis in the former British colony, and the drop in the number of travelers going to the semi- autonomous region of southern China.
The epidemic had the effect of a second wave for the group, which had nevertheless observed “the first three weeks of January a small increase in the number of passengers leaving Hong Kong”.
“The number of passengers departing from Hong Kong plunged after the Chinese New Year holiday” period, according to Cathay, pointing to the moment when the number of coronavirus cases exploded in mainland China.
The group had already warned in mid-July that it expected a net loss of around HKD 9.9 billion. This should be compared with a net profit of HKD 1.3 billion in the first half of 2019.