Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific reports first operating profit since 2019

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific on Wednesday reported its first annual operating profit since 2019 as the airline fights to return to pre-pandemic flight capacity.

"Cathay Pacific has experienced three challenging years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with 2022 very much being a year of two halves," chairman Patrick Healy said in a statement announcing the results..

Cathay is still trailing regional rivals such as Singapore Airlines, with Hong Kong's axing of harsh pandemic curbs -- including mandatory hotel quarantine and strict testing requirements -- only beginning in the fall of last year.

The airline operated at one-third of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity in December but expects to reach 70 percent of that figure by the end of 2023, the company said.

The company reported an operating profit of HK$3.55 billion ($452 million) last year, the results showed.

However, it suffered a loss attributable to shareholders of HK$6.5 billion.