Cathay Pacific Group almost doubled profits last year to HK$6 billion but warned that “challenges” seen in 2015 will continue into this year.

Strong competition from other airlines in the region, foreign currency movements and weak premium class passenger demand will put pressure on passenger yield, according to chairman John Slosar.

The high passenger load factors seen in the first half of the year continued in the second half, reflecting strong economy class demand.

However, premium class demand was not as strong as expected on some long-haul routes.

The state of competition, a significant reduction in fuel surcharges, unfavourable foreign currency movements and the fact that a higher proportion of passengers were connecting through Hong Kong put downward pressure on yield, which decreased by 11.4% to HK59.6 cents, the airline reported.

Slosar said: “The operating environment was better in 2015 than in 2014, but we faced some significant challenges, which we expect to continue in 2016.

“Overall passenger demand remains strong and we expect to continue to benefit from low fuel prices. Our subsidiaries and associates are expected to continue to perform well.

“We are confident of longer-term success, and we will continue to help our passengers to travel well.

“In January 2016, we announced that Dragonair is to be rebranded as Cathay Dragon, as part of an effort to create a more consistent travel experience between the two airlines.

“We will continue to invest in aircraft, in our products and in the development of our network.

“Our financial position is strong. Supported by our world-class team, we remain deeply committed to strengthening the aviation hub in Hong Kong, our home city for the past 70 years.”