Tuesday, 19 Oct 2021

Cathay Pacific, major shareholders Swire and Air China halt trading in Hong Kong

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (0293.HK) and its major shareholders Swire Pacific Ltd (0019.HK) and Air China Ltd (0753.HK) (601111.SS) halted trading in their shares in Hong Kong on Tuesday pending announcements.

Cathay’s management team on Friday met with the leaders of pilot unions at Cathay Pacific and its regional arm Cathay Dragon to brief them on condition of confidentiality ahead of an announcement expected on Tuesday, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

A fourth person said Hong Kong’s Cathay was poised to announce a new chief executive at Dragon along with some other senior management changes. The sources declined to be identified because they were not authorised to speak with media.

Swire owns a 45% stake in Cathay and Air China owns 30%.

Cathay has grounded most of its planes because of falling demand amid coronavirus-related travel curbs, flying only cargo and a skeleton passenger network to major destinations such as Beijing, Los Angeles, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Vancouver.

The airline last month said it made an unaudited loss of HK$4.5 billion ($580.64 million) at its full-service airlines over January-April and flagged a “very bleak” outlook.

Cathay in March sold six Boeing (BA.N) 777-300ER jets and associated equipment for $703.8 million to BOC Aviation Ltd (2588.HK), which Morningstar analyst Ivan Su said would cover more than half its projected cash outflow in 2020.

Cathay has furloughed some pilots at overseas bases and cut cabin crew roles in the United States and Canada since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but to date has not announced large-scale permanent job losses.

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