South Korean flag carrier swallow net loss of 736.86 billion

South Korean flag carrier Korean Air posted a first quarter net loss of 736.86 billion won (US$598 million) for the January-March quarter from 116.95 billion won a year earlier as it and every other airline in the world tries to survive the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down international commercial passenger traffic. The loss was a bit less than analysts had forecast after the airline saved money on fuel and by cutting its payroll. “Executives have forgone up to 50 percent of their salaries and 70 percent of employees are taking leave. The company was able to minimise losses with their support despite many challenges presented by the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis,” Korean Air President Woo Kee-hong said in a statement.

The airline said it recorded a 29.5 percent decrease in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) from the year-earlier period due to the fall in demand across all routes. Cargo rose  by 3.1 percent increase in freight ton kilometres from a year earlier because of increased freighter  operations, improved capacity utilisation and the use of passenger jets as freighters, the airline said.

Korean Air said it expected further losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the second quarter. But the cargo market is also expected to experience a further supply shortage due to the reduction and suspension of passenger flights worldwide, the carrier said, enabling it to continue profitable cargo operations. The company said it was also raising cash and planned to sell 1 trillion won (US$820 million) in new shares.