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According to latest publications, giant air carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd has announced its very first yearly loss since the global fiscal crisis.

Reports said that more than expected vacant seats and always rising competition from mainland Chinese airlines have been the major cause of the bad results, the airline said.

The company reported net loss of HK$575 million or $74 million for 2016, was a significant drop from a HK$6 billion profit the previous year.

This marks the third time, when the company has posted a full-year loss since it was established in 1946. The company’s shares plunged 7% in early trading, but then recovered.

Hong Kong’s flag carrier is facing fierce competition from mainland Chinese and Middle Eastern airlines that are expanding rapidly in the region.

Airlines such as Air China and China Eastern are offering customers more direct services from the mainland, making it less attractive for passengers to travel via Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said in a statement that “intense competition” from Chinese rival carriers contributed to sales plunging by 9.4%.

Meanwhile Company’s chairman, Mr. John Slosar saidĀ  that excessive demand for profitable business and first class seats had also gone down.

Passenger yield or the average fare paid per mile per customerĀ  is a closely watched marker of an airline’s financial health. For Cath`ay Pacific that figure dropped by 9.2% in 2016, while yield on cargo services came down by 16.3%.

Furthermore Mr. Slosar cautioned that this year would be equally “challenging”.

Earlier in 2017, the Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd publcized a major streamlining programme which would see considerable layoffs, although it remains imprecise how many jobs will be affected.

“Our organisation will become leaner,” the carrier said in a statement to the Hong Kong exchange on Wednesday.