Cathay Pacific Group expects a return to profit this year for the first time since before Covid despite staff recruitment constraints and supply chain issues.
The projection came as Cathay Pacific and HK Express combined surpassed a milestone of operating more than 9,000 passenger flight sectors in a month in October for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Cathay Pacific carried almost 1.7 million passengers last month, an increase of 320% year-on-yea, with the load factor up by 11.1 percentage points to 84.7%.
Chief customer and commercial officer Lavinia Lau said: “With respect to the consolidated group result, we expect that the second-half profit in 2023 will surpass the result from the first half and that the group will achieve a consolidated profit for the year overall, which will be our first profitable year since 2019.”
Reviewing the past month, she said: “Our travel business continued to see good demand in October, though the overall passenger mix was different from previous months.
“The elevated levels of student traffic seen in September subsided as the new school year started.
“However, we saw an increase in business travel as people attended exhibitions and conventions in Hong Kong as well as trade fairs in nearby Guangzhou, resulting in encouraging passenger volumes in the premium cabins.
She added: “As a group, comprising Cathay Pacific and HK Express, we are on track to achieve our 2023 rebuild target set out late last year.
“In December 2023, we expect to operate 70% of our pre-pandemic passenger flights covering about 80 destinations.
“In terms of satisfying post-pandemic travel demand, our priority has first and foremost been on facilitating Hong Kong people travelling from and visitors coming to Hong Kong.
“In those two directions, we project that we will be back to 95% of pre-pandemic passenger numbers by the end of 2023. As we further rebuild, we will add more transit traffic via the Hong Kong hub as well.
“In 2024, we shall continue to work towards fully rebuilding our flights. This is happening in the context of various constraints that are affecting the entire global aviation industry, notably the recruitment and training of customer-facing employees, and supply chain challenges.
“We have leveraged the Hong Kong SAR government’s labour importation scheme for the aviation industry and undertaken targeted approaches to mitigate these issues. We do not underestimate the magnitude of this challenge.”