Cathay Pacific chief executive John Slosar is optimistic that the airline's business performance next year will be better than a "challenging" 2012.
He made the remark as the airline recorded a HK$935 million loss for the first half of this year, dragged down by the sluggish cargo business and falling ticket prices.
In an interview yesterday, Slosar said that although cargo volumes had started to rise recently, this did not mean the business was fixed.
"Cargo had a really weak year. In the last few weeks, finally we started to see growth. But really for almost 18 months consecutively before that, every month was negative growth year-on-year," he said.
"In every industry you get some upturns. We have started to see some upturns. That's a good thing. [But] that does not mean the business is fixed."
Figures released last week showed that Cathay and subsidiary Dragonair carried 140,824 tonnes of cargo and mail last month, an increase of 6.3 per cent over November last year.
The figures also show that the two airlines carried a total of 2,361,137 passengers last month, an increase of 3.8 per cent. But Slosar said the extra passengers did not mean extra income.
"We actually carried slightly more passengers, but we carried them at a lower average rate so the more passengers didn't turn into any more revenue."
He also said that while he could not give a forecast of the business for the second half of this year, 2012 had been a "particularly difficult year", including the consistently higher cost of fuel.
To make 2013 a better year, he said the airline had doubled its sales effort, looking for new customers at a time when the weak economic climate put pressure on business travel.
The airline is also replacing some of its Boeing 747 fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft to deal with high fuel costs, he added.
When asked about the possible challenge when low-cost carrier Jetstar Hong Kong enters the market, Slosar said Cathay was already competing with other budget airlines such as Tiger Airways and AirAsia every day.
"We compete with them pretty effectively," he said.