Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific on Wednesday reported a massive net loss of HK$2.05 billion (US$262.07 million) for the first half of the year as the airline struggled with intense competition from rivals.

The results, which were far worse than analysts predicted, came after Cathay saw its first annual loss in eight years in 2016, as lower cost Chinese carriers eat into its market share.

Chairman John Slosar described the results as “disappointing” to reporters.

File photo: Wikicommons.

Bloomberg analysts had forecast a loss of HK$1.2 billion (US$153 million).

Slosar said competition was the “most significant” factor in a statement to the Hong Kong exchange.

Higher fuel prices, a strong Hong Kong dollar and rising aircraft maintenance costs also cost Cathay, he said, as did fines from the European Commission over the airline’s cargo surcharges.

Last year’s annual loss prompted a management shake-up and promises to slash staff costs by 30 percent.

Current CEO Rupert Hogg took over in May, replacing Ivan Chu, who had been in the job for three years.

Cathay said in May it would cut 600 staff including a quarter of its management, as part of its biggest shakeup in two decades to repair its bottom line.

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