Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Cathay Pacific returns to profit

Cathay Pacific planes
Revenues fell 23% compared with the previous year

Cathay Pacific, one of Asia's biggest airlines, has reported a return to full-year profit as cost cutting and bets on the price of fuel paid off.

Net profit for 2009 came in at $4.7bn Hong Kong dollars ($606m; £405m), compared with a loss of 8.7bn Hong Kong dollars in 2008.

Fuel hedging in particular helped the airline to offset a fall in revenue of almost a quarter over the period.

Despite the profit, Cathay said it was cautious about prospects for 2010.

Fuel costs

"The global economic slump last year resulted in extremely challenging business conditions for Cathay Pacific Group and commercial aviation in general," the airline said.

It reported an increase in passenger numbers and cargo business in the second half of the year, but said this was not enough to affect "sharply reduced revenues" for the full-year.

"In addition, the cost of fuel, which rose steadily from the middle of 2009, remains stubbornly high and threatens to undermine profitability," chairman Christopher Pratt said.

Global airlines struggled last year as individuals and businesses cut back on flying during the downturn.

According to the International Air Transport Association (Iata), 2009 saw the biggest decline in air passenger traffic in the post-war era.

It estimated that airlines collectively lost $11bn (£7.4bn).

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