The carrier saw losses rise to £115 million from the previous year’s deficit of £52.5 million. The airline made a profit of £72 million in the second half of 2017, but this was not enough to offset a £187 million deficit in the first six months.
The carrier said that “fundamental structural changes within the airline industry continued to create a challenging operating environment” last year. Cathay said overcapacity in passenger markets, intense competition and high fuel prices had contributed to the situation but that a weaker US dollar and improved premium class demand had helped.
A three-year restructuring programme was begun in the first half of last year. “Our focus in 2017 was on building the right foundations, structure and strategy to improve revenue and to better contain costs. Evidence of progress became apparent in the second half of the year. Airline losses in the second half of 2017 were lower than those in each of the two preceding half years,” Cathay said.
The airline’s chairman John Slosar said: “We are improving our competitive position by expanding our route network, increasing frequencies on our most popular routes and buying more fuel-efficient aircraft. We have improved productivity and efficiency and at the same time we are improving our already high customer service standards. “
Cathay introduced a Gatwick-Hong Kong service in 2016. It said that load factors on the route were “high” but that revenue was affected by sterling’s weakness. The service went daily in June last year. Cathay’s Manchester service also went daily in December 2017.