Cathay Pacific Airways loss doubles on intense competition

Cathay Pacific’s losses more than doubled last year because of rising fuel costs and relentless competition from rival carriers, the Hong Kong airline said Wednesday.

The airline posted a 1.26 billion Hong Kong dollar ($160 million) loss for 2017, compared with a HK$575 million loss the year before.

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Revenue rose 5 percent.

“Fundamental structural changes within the airline industry continued to create a challenging operating environment for our airline businesses,” Chairman John Slosar said.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest airline, also operates regional carrier Cathay Dragon.

The company has been under pressure from rivals including budget airlines around Asia and state-owned mainland Chinese carriers, which have been flooding key routes with passenger seats and driving down prices.

Cathay’s fuel bill rose 11.3 percent even after taking into account fuel hedging contracts used to minimize price swings. Jet fuel is the company’s single biggest expense, accounting for nearly a third of total operating costs.

Last year Cathay embarked on a sweeping corporate overhaul that included dismissing nearly 600 staff at its headquarters, in its biggest round of layoffs in two decades. Slosar said there were signs the revamp was paying off, with losses in the second half of the year smaller than in each of the preceding two years.

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