Cathay Pacific orders aircraft on back of record results

CATHAY Pacific has ordered 30 Airbus A350-900 aircraft and announced its intention to exercise existing purchase rights of six Boeing 777-300ERs.

The total value of the intended aircraft purchases at list price is about HK$75 billion.

The A350 extra widebody (XWB) will form the backbone of Cathay Pacific’s future mid-size wide-body fleet, with the 30 new acquisitions being delivered between 2016 and 2019.

The six 777-300ERs are in addition to the 30 already on firm order and will join the 18 currently in operation. They will become Cathay’s backbone of its ultra-long-haul and long-haul fleet, chiefly serving destinations in North America and Europe.

The orders are thanks to first half-year profits of HK$6.8 billion, which compares to a profit of HK$812 million in the same half last year. Earnings per share were up 8.4 times to HK173.9 cents. Turnover for the period increased by 33.7 per cent to HK$41 billion.

Cargo business was robust for the whole of the first half with strong demand in all key markets. The load factor increased by 11.8 per cent compared with the first half of 2009, hitting a record of 78 per cent. By July the airline had brought back into service all five aircraft parked in the desert during last year’s downturn, which helped it to meet demand.

In the half year the amount of freight carried by both Cathay and Dragonair increased by 24.4 per cent to 872,000 tonnes. Cargo revenue increased by 63.1 per cent to HK$11.8 billion while yield increased by 36.1 per cent to HK$2.26.

Cathay Pacific Chairman Christopher Pratt said: “If present trends continue, we expect our financial results to continue to be strong in the second half of 2010. That said, conditions can change rapidly in the airline industry. Our results would be adversely affected, and very quickly so, by a significant further increase in fuel prices or any return to the recessionary economic conditions of 2008 and much of 2009.”

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