Cathay Pacific reported escalating protests in Hong Kong have hit demand as it came under fire from China’s state media over some airline staff joining the protests.
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific reported a profit of €153 million (£141 million) for the six months to June after a loss of €30 million in the same period last year.
However, Cathay chairman John Slosar reported: “Global trade tensions and protests in Hong Kong are having direct and indirect effects on demand.
“The protests in Hong Kong reduced inbound passenger traffic in July and are adversely impacting forward bookings.”
However, the English-language daily newspaper the Global Times, a sister title of China’s People’s Daily, warned Cathay Pacific would “pay a painful price [for] its actions” after some airline staff appeared to back the continuing Hong Kong protests.
Members of Cathay Pacific cabin crew were involved in a recent protest at the airport and the Hong Kong pilots’ union is supporting a Cathay Pacific pilot who is among protestors charged with rioting.
The airline has also issued an apology for “the inappropriate behaviour of an employer” for a social media post about the protests.
Hong Kong has been wracked by growing demonstrations since early June over the government’s attempt to introduce extradition to China for certain offences.
Three days of fresh protests kicked off on Friday with demonstrators converging again on Hong Kong’s main airport.
The extradition legislation has been withdrawn but protestors want it scrapped and the removal of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam.
Cathay’s principal shareholder is the Swire Group which is listed in Hong Kong and London and holds 45%. But Air China is also leading shareholder owning 30% of Cathay. The remaining shares are listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, with Qatar Airways holding almost 10%.
Slosar noted Cathay is in the final year of a three-year turnaround programme after returning to profit last year.
But he said: “The operating environment for our airlines worsened as geopolitical and trade tensions intensified.”
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