After reporting its first loss for at least 25 years, Cathay Pacific Airways is continuing to warn of difficult times ahead. 'We have to anticipate that 1999 will be a tough year, maybe tougher than '98,' managing director David Turnbull said yesterday. The airline lost $175 million in the first six months compared with a $1.068 billion profit a year earlier, leaving the loss per share at 5.2 cents, down from earnings of 31.1 cents last year. Turnover slumped 16 per cent to $12.99 billion. Investment analysts had expected a tough half, with most predicting flat profit growth or a small loss. Perhaps the most striking factor was that, while the passenger load per aircraft fell, the drop in yields was much heavier. Pacific, South African and North Asian routes saw yields down by as much as 18.5 per cent, while loads fell 5 per cent at most. The most intense pressure on returns was in economy class, but business- and first-class yields also suffered as companies across Asia sent fewer executives on trips abroad, the carrier said. Overall, the average journey for the six-month period was 66.5 per cent full, down from 71.2 per cent a year earlier. Cathay would not give details of which were its profitable and non-profitable routes nor say if it had any profitable routes at all at the moment. Chairman Peter Sutch only confirmed that some Japanese services were not making a profit. 'There are Japanese routes that have never lost money, in my memory, that are now losing money,' he said. Cathay said it was concentrating on looking for ways to become more efficient. 'We're simply reviewing, reviewing, reviewing everything we're doing,' Mr Turnbull said. In addition to cost control targets, the airline said it was adjusting schedules to meet new market conditions. As well as increasing frequency on London, Los Angeles and Sydney routes, it was planning a new non-stop service to San Francisco from December and on Saturday, launches a twice-weekly flight to Istanbul. Despite the consolidation of services on one of its Japanese routes, the company had no intention to drop any destinations, it said. On the cost side, Mr Turnbull said that charges it had to pay at the new airport were 70-80 per cent higher than those at Kai Tak and would 'hit the bottom line'. Mr Turnbull said he would have to look at retiring older aircraft earlier, as new ones operated more efficiently. A target here could be six older Boeing 747-300s still in service, he suggested. The interim results came after the market closed yesterday. Cathay's shares had ended down 15 cents at $5.90.