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Cathay Pacific's First-Half Net Profit Jumps 55%, Beating Forecasts

Cathay Pacific Airways, posted a 54.5% rise in first-half earnings boosted by strong passenger demand especially in the premium business and first class divisions.

Hong Kong's largest air carrier posted a net profit of HK$2.58 billion (US$330.8 million) for the six month period ending June, versus HK$1.67 billion a year ago.

The results beat forecasts of HK$2.05 billion and HK$2.4 billion from two analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.

Cathay Pacific carried 10.96 million passengers in the first half, up 1.3% from the same period last year. The airline's passenger load factor, or the proportion of seats filled on its flights, rose 0.4 percentage point to an average 78.1% during the six-month period.

Cathay Pacific holds a 17.32% stake in Air China. The latter carrier last month said first-half net profit would jump at least 20 times, from just 45 million yuan ($6 million), under domestic accounting standards.

Analysts have said Cathay Pacific could book about HK$1.6 billion in annual profits from its purchase of China-focused Dragonair, which it bought for HK$8.22 billion in 2006.