Cathay Pacific flew back into the black after two years of losses following an overhaul plan. 

The Hong Kong-based carrier reported a HK$2.35 billion (£228 million) annual profit for the year ended December 31.

This compared with a loss of HK$1.29 billion in 2017.

The improved performance came despite a major passenger data breach in October although the airline stressed that it found no evidence that any personal information was misused.

Chairman John Slosar said: “Despite broadly benign economic conditions, the environment in which our airlines operated was as ever difficult in 2018.

“Competition was intense, fuel prices increased and the US dollar strengthened.

“However, our transformation programme remains on track and had a positive impact.

“We focused on finding new sources of revenue, building our network and strengthening the Hong Kong hub, delivering more value to our customers and improving productivity and efficiency.”

Looking forward, he added: “The business environment is expected to remain challenging in 2019, with the forecast strength of the US dollar and uncertainty due to geopolitical discord and global trade tensions dampening passenger and cargo demand.

“Competition will remain intense, especially in economy class on long-haul routes. Operational constraints will impose additional costs. These factors will affect both the passenger and the cargo business.

“We remain confident in the ability of our transformation programme to enable us to deliver sustainable long-term performance.

“In 2019, we will continue to reorganise our nine core business processes, to benefit from associated underlying structural initiatives and to build a culture of continuous improvement.

“We will compete hard by extending our route network to destinations not currently served from Hong Kong, by increasing frequencies on our most popular routes and by operating more fuel-efficient aircraft. We will focus upon, and continue to invest in, customer service and productivity.”