Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific Closes 2023 With First Profit Since 2019

One of the last of the main worldwide airlines to announce its profits is one of the hardest hit by covid, Cathay Pacific. The airline finally seems to have moved on from the hardships of post 2020. Finally the sun is starting to shine in the Hong Kong bay and a new phase for the carrier seems ready to start. Let’s look at Cathay Pacific‘s key 2023 figures and what it announced in its end of year financial statement.

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Cathay Pacific Registers First Profit Since 2019

After 3 years of being effectively cut off from the world Hong Kong has finally reopened. Foreign travellers have started flowing into the city as have transit passengers. The HKIA mega hub is slowly regaining its pre-pandemic traffic levels, although much remains to be done. The main beneficiary of the reopening of Hong Kong is also the party that for 3 years suffered the harshest hardships, Cathay Pacific. Hong Kong’s hometown carrier has finally returned to a profit in 2023.

In 2023, we finally left the Covid-19 pandemic behind us. In welcoming this new phase, our purpose “to move people forward in life” has been foremost in our minds.

Patrick Healy, Cathay Group Chair

The group as a whole has wrapped up 2023 with 94.485 billion HK$ revenue (approximately 12.1 Billion USD). That figure has skyrocketed upwards by 85% from its 2022 level of 51.036 billion HK$. The bottom line is one that brings a smile to the Cathay Pacific board and certainly to its shareholders.

Cathay 2023 saw the group make a profit for the first time since 2019. With a final figure stating a profit 9,789 Billion HK$, which translates to a very healthy double digit operating margin of 10.4%. A huge recovery over 2022 when the company lost 6.6 Billion HK$ and had a negative operating margin of -13%. Quite a recovery for one of the airlines that has suffered the most from the 2020 induced crisis.

Investors have also another reason to smile as Cathay is also ready to pay its first post-covid dividend, at 0,43HK$ per share.

Cathay Airways planes parked at gate at HKIA. The airline has published its financial results for 2023 wrapping up the year with its first profit since 2019.

Capacity High Load Factors and Passenger Yields But…

2023 saw very healthy figures for the Hong Kong based carrier in terms of load factor ad passenger yields, however there is a but. These very high figures were somehow inflated by the capacity constraints that the group faced during the financial year. Therefore they might suffer a slow down in coming months as more and more capacity comes back online for Cathay.

Specifically an overall average load factor of 85.7% was achieved and passenger yield of 76.3 HK$ cents. Finally the total passengers carried figure summed up to 17.985 million. A 541% increase over the previous year when only 2.804 million passengers were welcomed aboard Cathay flights.

Optimism on The 777x Deliveries

Although it wasn’t emphasised in the press release, it did catch the attention of many. Looking at the fleet breakdown and its planned evolution it clearly stands out how Cathay Pacific is planning/hoping to get its hands on its first 777x in 2025. While another 19 will be incorporated from 2026 and onwards. That is quite a bullish and very optimistic outlook for in terms of fleet evolution. We all know the issues that Boeing has been facing and how a myriad of issues have constantly pushed back the new generation 777 entrance into service.

As for the rest of the Cathay fleet there won’t be significant changes in 2024. Three 777-300ER will be ending their lease term with the carrier, which plausibly CX hopes to replace with the 777-9 in 2025. While there will be 4 A321neo jets making their way to the Hong Kong bay to fly with Cathay Pacific. Only time will tell if Cathay Pacific was just too optimistic on the 777x.

View From Hong Kong International Airport Terminal

Outlook on Cathay’s Operations in 2024

The airline in 2023 has focused primarily in recovering as much lost ground as possible. Having ramped up much later than all main competitor there was a lot to get done.

Our primary focus has been on rebuilding Cathay for the benefit of our customers, our people, our shareholders and the Hong Kong international aviation hub. I am pleased to report that we achieved our end-2023 Group target of operating 70% of pre-pandemic passenger flights, connecting Hong Kong with around 80 destinations around the world.

Patrick Healy, Cathay Group Chair

The group aims to continue its quest in filling the gap with 2019 in 2024. Specifically the bar has been set at 80% of its pre-covid operations. That is still quite a bit of way off its competitors path to recovery. To do so the airline will continue to bring back staff it had furloughed during the pandemic and hiring new manpower to ensure operational stability.

Also as the airline and its subsidiaries inch closer to they pre-pandemic capacity they will finally be able to take advantage of the new and improved HKIA. Over the past years the airport has further expanded opening its 3rd runway which will enable a 3 runway system. That will translate to a massive boost in potential capacity for CX.

A graph representing Cathay Pacific's load factor and passengers transported from May 2023 to December 2023.

About the author

Alex Achille

Ex Cabin Crew with Emirates, I've always loved travelling and other cultures. In this website I'll be sharing my experiences along with my reviews of the latest Korean Dramas and TV Series I've watched.

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