Cathay expects more loss amid tighter crew quarantine

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways says it's expecting to burn more cash after the city's government tightened crew restrictions, forcing the airline to cut cargo and passenger capacity sharply.

On Monday the airline forecasted it would post an annual loss for 2021 of up to $780 million U.S. dollars.

But that's still better than the average estimate by analysts of around $1.2 billion, and its actual losses from the year before, 2020, of more than 2 and a half billion dollars.

Cathay pointed to a surprise profit in the second half of last year thanks to cost cuts and a strong cargo market.

However it said starting from February it would be burning through at least 128 million dollars a month.

Cathay this month is operating at 2% of its passenger capacity from before the pandemic, and a fifth of the cargo capacity from before, too.

That's a far cry from rival Singapore Airlines which also lacks a domestic market, but has less-strict travel rules.

This month it forecast hitting 47% of pre-crisis passenger capacity.

Hong Kong has been pursuing a "zero-COVID" strategy in hopes of opening its border with mainland China, suspending transit flights from most of the world.

Last month the city introduced tighter crew quarantine rules after two Cathay crew members broke self-isolation measures, and sparked an outbreak in the city.

The two have since been fired, arrested and charged over the breaches.

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