Cathay Pacific expects to suffer from a “substantial” loss in the first half of the year as due to the impact of the negative impact of coronavirus.

The Hong Kong-based carrier today reported a 28% drop in 2019 profits to HK$1.69 billion (£170 million) in the face of the city’s political protests.

The airline faced an “incredibly challenging environment” as the Hong Kong economy slipped into recession following political unrest and mounting US-China trade tensions.

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Chairman Peter Healy described 2019 as a “turbulent year” for the carrier.

And the first half of 2020 is “expected to be extremely challenging financially”.

Healy added: “This has been exacerbated by the significant negative impact of Covid-19.

“It is difficult to predict when these conditions will improve.

“Travel demand has dropped substantially and we have taken a series of short- term measures in response.

“These have included a sharp reduction of capacity in our passenger network.

“Despite these measures we expect to incur a substantial loss for the first half of 2020.

“We expect our passenger business to be under severe pressure this year.”