March 14, 2012 / 4:17 AM / 5 years ago

Cathay Pacific says 2011 net down 61 pct

HONG KONG, March 14 (Reuters) - Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, Asia's No.4 carrier by market value, posted a 61 percent drop in 2011 net profit on Wednesday, hit by high fuel costs and as a slowing global economy reduced cargo demand and passenger growth.

Cathay, the world's largest air cargo carrier, reported a net profit of HK$5.5 billion ($708.83 million) for last year, down from a record HK$14.05 billion in 2010.

The result was slightly below an average forecast of HK$5.82 billion from 17 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Rival Singapore Airlines Ltd has cut cargo capacity and asked its pilots to volunteer for unpaid leave to counter a weak aviation market after it reported a 53 percent plunge in third-quarter net profit.

Shares of Cathay Pacific, which plunged 38 percent in 2011, were up 1.7 percent at HK$15.84 on Wednesday, ahead of the results.

Hong Kong's benchmark index fell 20 percent in 2011.

Cathay owns a 19 percent stake in Air China Ltd , the country's national flag carrier. ($1 = 7.7593 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Alison Leung; Editing by Chris Lewis)

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