Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific has recorded its first profit since the COVID-19 pandemic after an 85% increase in revenue as the company enters a “new phase” according to its chairperson. 

The airline saw a surge in travel demand that led to a 23.4% increase in its profit margins to go from a HK$6.6bn ($846.5m) loss in 2022 to a HK$9.8bn profit for 2023. 

CEO Ronald Lam said: “As I reflect on my first year as Chief Executive Officer of the Cathay Group in 2023, I can say good progress has been made in our two key areas of focus: rebuilding and investing. 

“Throughout the year, we dedicated ourselves to rebuilding our brand, flights and home hub, whilst also making strategic investment decisions that will benefit our customers, our people and Hong Kong as a whole.” 

While the company has not recovered its pre-pandemic travel numbers yet, the airline reached its 2023 target of operating 70% of its 2019 flight numbers. 

The airline has been looking to rebuild its capacity after the pandemic restrictions with a $4.66bn order for 32 A320neo aircraft with Airbus in October and an order of six A350F freighter aircraft for its Cathay Cargo branch in December. 

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Cathay Pacific Chair Patrick Healy said: “In 2023, we finally left the Covid-19 pandemic behind us. In welcoming this new phase, our purpose “to move people forward in life” has been foremost in our minds. 

“Our primary focus has been on rebuilding Cathay for the benefit of our customers, our people, our shareholders and the Hong Kong international aviation hub.” 

Looking ahead to 2024, the airline was set to reach 80% of its pre-pandemic flights in Q2 2024 and is now planning to get back to 100% by Q1 2025, three months later than originally projected, as well as expanding its workforce by 20%. 

Healy said Cathay Pacific is hoping to brave the issues facing the aviation industry, such as supply chain constraints and technical staff shortages, with “targeted strategies” and by benefiting from programmes such as the Hong Kong SAR Government’s Labour Importation Scheme.