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Cathay Pacific sees 2018 profit beating expectations, shares surge

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Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways said on Wednesday it expected to swing to an annual profit of about HK$2.3 billion (S$396.1 million) for 2018, more than double analyst estimates, as it undertakes a turnaround plan.

[HONG KONG] Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways said on Wednesday it expected to swing to an annual profit of about HK$2.3 billion (S$396.1 million) for 2018, more than double analyst estimates, as it undertakes a turnaround plan.

Shares surged by as much as 6.6 per cent to their highest level since June 2018 after the market reopened for the post-lunch session.

Before the announcement, 15 analysts polled by Refinitiv I/B/E/S had on average expected the airline to report a profit of HK$1.1 billion for 2018, up from a HK$1.25 billion loss in 2017, as out-of-the-money fuel hedges rolled off.

The airline said in a statement that its passenger business had benefited from capacity growth and improved revenue management, with average airfare prices up despite competitive pressures.

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Cathay, which relies on cargo for about a quarter of its revenue, said the freight business was also strong, with rates up and volumes higher.

The airline last year said US-China trade tensions had not hurt its business but it was keeping a close eye on the situation in case trading volumes shifted.

Cathay and Singapore Airlines are both pursuing turnaround plans designed to cut costs and boost revenue to better compete against rivals from the Middle East, mainland China and budget airlines.

"The company's transformation programme has had a positive impact," Cathay said on Wednesday.

REUTERS