JAL lifts profit outlook

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A file photo shows a Japanese Airlines plane. Wiki Commons CC BY-SA

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan Airlines (JAL) raised its full-year outlook yesterday after first-quarter operating profit rose 12 percent from a year earlier, helped by strong demand for long-haul routes including flights between Tokyo and New York.

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It now expects an annual operating profit of 153 billion yen, up from an earlier forecast of 142 billion yen but still down 10 percent from a year earlier.

JAL also cited strong sales in its domestic passenger routes as well as its cargo business, and raised its outlook for its annual dividend payment to 96 yen per share from an earlier estimate of 90 yen per share.

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Operating profit for the three months through June was 24.7 billion yen ($223.35 million), higher than the average estimate of 18.5 billion yen from two analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

JAL was freed from government-imposed restrictions on route expansion in April, more than seven years after filing for bankruptcy and receiving a taxpayer-funded bailout.

Newly added flights between Tokyo and New York were proving popular, it said.

Arch rival ANA Holdings Inc. has taken advantage of past restrictions on JAL to expand its international routes. It will report its quarterly results tomorrow.

JAL last week announced a codesharing deal with Vietjet, Vietnam’s biggest private airline, noting that demand for travel between the two countries has grown in line with rapid economic development in Vietnam.

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JAL and Qantas Airways Ltd. each own a 33.3 percent stake in Jetstar Japan, Japan’s biggest low-cost carrier, which is expanding its fleet now that it is profitable.

In February, Japan Airlines said net profit dropped in the nine months to December due to a slump in income from international flights, but the carrier left its full-year forecast unchanged.

In December JAL posted a net profit of 108.3 billion yen ($955 million), down 24.6 percent from the same period the year before.

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