Cathay Pacific recorded an interim net loss of HK$5 billion, narrowing by a third from a year ago, the group announced on Wednesday.
The losses for the six months ending June covered a period where the flag carrier had to cope with stringent Omicron-led travel restrictions in Hong Kong and the gradual easing of curbs that enabled it to resume more flights.
Passenger revenue jumped 178 percent year-on-year to HK$2.1 billion as the airline more than doubled the number of passengers it carried to 335,000.
Cargo revenue rose slightly by nine percent to HK$12.1 billion.
"The Cathay Pacific Group had an extremely difficult start to 2022," its chairman Patrick Healy said in a statement, pointing to the city's ban on flights from key markets such as the UK and US, as well as tightened quarantine rules for locally-based aircrew.
“The progressive adjustments to these restrictions from 1 May were positive developments. Adjustments to the testing and quarantine requirements for Hong Kong-based aircrew enabled us to progressively resume flights to more destinations in May and June.”
Healy later told a press conference that the group hopes to boost passenger flight capacity to up to a quarter of pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year, but said the current anti-Covid measures are restricting the carrier’s ability to do so.
"We have a huge backlog of retraining for our crew, many of whom have not flown for over a year, and this backlog cannot be adequately addressed until these operating constraints have been lifted," he said.
"This, combined with other operational complexities, means that capacity can only be increased gradually over a period of several months following the removal of all Covid-related operating constraints."
He called on the authorities to offer a clear roadmap to lift all Covid restrictions for aircrew as well as passengers.
"In the short term, it is quite clear that Hong Kong has fallen far behind other international aviation hubs, and that our regional competitors have recovered much faster from the disruptions caused by the global pandemic," he said.
Meanwhile, the airline said it intends to hire more than 4,000 frontline workers – including 700 pilots and 2,000 flight attendants – over the next two years to meet increasing demand.
It added that it will continue to bring back aircraft that had been parked overseas to provide additional capacity.
At present, Cathay says it has 68 airplanes abroad.
Last updated: 2022-08-10 HKT 15:58