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Cathay Pacific warns of profit decline in H1'20 due to coronavirus outbreak

Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. expects its financial results to be "significantly down" year over year in the first half of 2020 due to the decline in flight demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Cathay Pacific cut its passenger flight capacity by about 40% for February and March and warned of additional capacity reduction coming in April.

"With more governments worldwide having imposed travel restrictions on passengers from mainland China and in some cases Hong Kong, we are seeing continued cancellations of bookings," said Cathay Pacific Group Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Ronald Lam.

In January, the number of passengers carried by Cathay Pacific Group fell by 3.8% year over year. Cargo and mail volume carried by the airline company also dropped 8.9%.

The airline had already cut the capacity of flights to and from mainland China by 50% or more through the end of March.

The novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, has infected nearly 71,900 people and resulted in 1,775 deaths as of Feb. 17.

S&P Global Ratings expects the virus outbreak to knock 0.3 of a percentage point from global GDP growth in 2020. Moody's has also lowered its forecast for China's GDP growth in 2020 to 5.2% from 5.8%.

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