Shares in Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific were up Thursday, a day after the airline announced a management shakeup on the heels of its first loss in eight years.

Last month the troubled airline posted its first annual net loss since 2008, citing intense competition as lower cost carriers, particularly from mainland China, eat into its market share.

It reported a US$74 million net loss for 2016 and warned that 2017 would be similarly “challenging”, later saying it would slash staff costs by 30 percent.

cathay pacific
A Cathay Pacific aircraft. Photo: Wikicommons.

Cathay announced a major restructuring programme in January, but it has not said how many jobs it intends to axe.

Its shares were up 2.56 percent near the break in Hong Kong at HK$11.20 ($1.44), after recovering from a mid-morning dip following the appointment of its new chief executive officer.

The move will see its current CEO Ivan Chu, who has been in the job for three years, replaced by the airline’s chief operating officer Rupert Hogg starting May 1.

“Rupert will lead the airline through its three-year corporate transformation programme with the aim of becoming more agile and competitive in the challenging market place,” Cathay chairman John Slosar said in a statement Wednesday.

Financial analyst Jackson Wong told AFP the airline had made the right move, but investors remain cautious, awaiting further details on its restructuring plans.

Cathay pacific
Cathay Pacific aircraft. Photo: Michael Rehfeldt via Flickr.

“They cut the CEO, that sends a signal to the investors that they are committed to reshaping the whole company,” Wong of Huarong International Securities said.

Shares in Cathay have fallen 29 percent since Chu was appointed as CEO in 2014 despite an 11 percent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index in the same period, Bloomberg News reported.

Companies like China Eastern and China Southern Airlines are offering direct services to Europe and the United States from the mainland, while budget carriers like Spring Airlines have targeted regional travelers, undermining Cathay’s position.

The airline is also losing premium travellers as it comes under pressure from Middle East rivals which are expanding into Asia and offering more luxury touches.

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