Cathay Pacific gained HK$24 million (US$3.1 million) in profit in the first six months of 2013, up from a loss of HK$929 million in the first half of 2012, mainly due to strong passenger demand and cost-cutting as cargo traffic remained weak.
Turnover for the period fell by 0.6 percent to HK$48.5 billion.
The group, which operates Cathay Pacific and Dragonair, continued to operate in a challenging business environment in the first half of 2013, the Hong Kong-based airline said in a statement.
The company has seen its cargo business affected by weak demand since April 2011, it added.
Cargo revenue for the first half of 2013 was down by 5.2 percent to HK$11.2 billion compared to the same period in 2012. Capacity for Cathay Pacific and Dragonair was down by 1.8 percent, and load factor fell by 1.9 percentage points to 62.4 percent.
Freighter capacity was adjusted in line with demand. “We carried more cargo in the bellies of passenger aircraft in order to reduce costs,” Cathay Pacific said.
In 2012, the company introduced measures to mitigate the high price of jet fuel. It changed schedules, reduced capacity, and withdrew older, less fuel-efficient aircraft from service.
“The fuel and aircraft maintenance components of our operating costs in the first half of 2013 were significantly lower and financial performance improved as a result,” the company statement said.
Cathay Pacific chairman Christopher Pratt said that the outlook for the rest of the year remained “unclear.”
The group continued to modernize its fleet, taking delivery of six new aircraft—two Airbus A330-300 aircraft, three Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, and one Boeing 747-8F freighter—in the first six months of 2013.
Early this year, Cathay Pacific agreed to purchase three Boeing 747-8F freighters for delivery in the second half of 2013, cancelled orders for eight Boeing 777-200F freighters, acquired options to purchase five Boeing 777-200F freighters , and agreed to sell four Boeing 747-400BCF converted freighters.
Meanwhile, the company’s new cargo terminal at Hong Kong International Airport is expected to be fully operational by the last quarter of 2013, which is seen to reduce costs and improve efficiency in the group’s cargo business.