Furthermore, the Group announces that it will not need to utilise the HK$7.8 billion bridge loan facility extended to it by the HKSAR Government, which will expire on 8 June 2023.
The preference shares and bridge loan facility were an investment by the HKSAR Government to support the Cathay Group and the Hong Kong international aviation hub through the COVID-19 crisis. The overall HK$39 billion recapitalisation in June 2020 comprised three tranches:
- The issuance of HK$19.5 billion preference shares and warrants to the HKSAR Government.
- A HK$7.8 billion bridge loan facility provided by the HKSAR Government.
- A HK$11.7 billion rights issue of ordinary shares to existing shareholders.
Chief Executive Officer Ronald Lam said: “We are extremely grateful to the HKSAR Government and to all of our shareholders for their invaluable support during the COVID-19 pandemic, which enabled the Cathay Group to navigate through the most challenging period in our 76-year history and keep the Hong Kong international aviation hub connected.
“As travel restrictions get lifted and travel demand returns, our Group, further to being overall operating cash generative in 2022, has continued to be operating cash generative so far in 2023.
“Our financial position remains healthy. As such, we feel confident that our journey of rebuilding Cathay for Hong Kong is on the right track, and now is the appropriate time to begin repaying the support that the HKSAR Government has shown us.”
The Cathay Group, comprising passenger airlines Cathay Pacific and HK Express, targets to operate around 70% of pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity covering about 80 destinations by the end of 2023, with the aim of returning to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024.