Cathay Pacific reports profit but warns of HK protests impact

Hong Kong (AFP) –


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

Announcing interim results that showed the airline in the black after huge losses in the first half of last year, chairman John Slosar warned of further impact to the business in response to both the unrest and 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."

The previously troubled airline reported first-half earnings of 1.35 billion HKD ($172 million), compared with a loss of 263 million HKD 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.

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

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

Many were with Cathay Pacific, with its flight attendants union confirming some of its members had walked out.

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.