Releasing its annual results earlier, Cathay Pacific said it would further cut capacity as demand continues to fall in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Hong Kong-based carrier, which has been among the airlines hardest hit by the virus, said it has reduced capacity across its network by 65 per cent in March and April.
This is compared to earlier plans for a 40 per cent cut, and comes as the virus takes a further toll on passenger demand.
“Travel demand has dropped substantially, and we have taken a number of short-term measures in response.
“These have included a sharp reduction of capacity in our passenger network,” Cathay Pacific chairman, Patrick Healy, said.
The airline has been at the forefront of a global slump in travel demand due to the epidemic.
Losses compound a hit the airline took in the second half of 2019 from widespread anti-government protests in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong.
As a result, Cathay also unveiled a 28 per cent drop in 2019 earnings – to HK$1.69 billion (£168.80 million).
The flu-like coronavirus has infected over 100,000 people and killed more than 4,000 globally.
Even as the outbreak appears to come under control in China, with the number of new cases falling, Cathay predicted big losses in the first half of the year.
“Despite these measures we expect to incur a substantial loss for the first half of 2020,” Healy added.
Cathay did not announce any job cuts and said it was cautiously optimistic about the air cargo market, where rates have risen sharply in recent weeks.
“We continue to take delivery of new aircraft in 2020 and, with the hope that the environment will improve, we will retain the flexibility to add back capacity to the market as soon as we are able to,” Healy added.
“Our plan to take delivery of 70 new and more fuel-efficient aircraft by 2024 remains unchanged.”
Cathay said it had unrestricted liquidity of HK$20 billion.
The airline said it expected to remain a going concern given the availability of sources of funds and its cost-cutting measures, including a hiring freeze, a request for three weeks unpaid leave for all staff and stopping non-essential spending.
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