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AEROSPACE
ANA keeps forecast as nine-month net profit surges
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 31, 2013


Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) said Thursday that its net profit in the nine months to December soared 54.6 percent and that it would maintain its annual profit forecast, despite its Dreamliner woes.

Net profit came to 52 billion yen ($574 million) on solid business demand, coupled with programmes to stoke leisure travel, it said, adding that the full extent of the financial impact of the worldwide grounding of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner was unclear.

However, the carrier said it expected to take a $15.4 million hit on sales in January owing to 459 cancelled domestic and international flights this month linked to the troubled next-generation aircraft.

Aviation regulators were focusing on the lithium-ion batteries as the cause of a problem that forced an ANA flight to make an emergency landing in mid-January.

US regulators have said they will not allow the 787 to fly again until they are sure the problems around the battery system are fixed.

Boeing's cutting-edge new planes suffered a series of glitches this month, including the emergency landing, prompting a global alert from the US Federal Aviation Administration that led to the grounding of all 50 operational 787s.

ANA, which flew the Dreamliner's maiden flight, said Thursday it was committed to the fuel-efficient aircraft, despite its highly-publicised problems.

"At this point, we have no intention to review our mid-term management strategy which centers around 787s," ANA executive Kiyoshi Tonomoto told a press briefing.

"Currently we operate the largest number of 787s in the world. We will work the hardest to ensure the safety of the aircraft once again and regain the public trust," he said.

But he admitted the firm may review its strategy if the problems drag on.

ANA and rival Japan Airlines -- which have ordered a combined 111 Dreamliners so far -- said Wednesday they had replaced a number of batteries in the aircraft after experiencing problems before the worldwide grounding.

In its earnings announcement, ANA said operating profit in the nine months to December rose 18 percent to 107.5 billion yen, on sales of 1.13 trillion yen, up 5.8 percent from the same period a year ago.

It kept its annual outlook unchanged, with full-year net profit seen at 40 billion yen, operating profit at 110 billion yen on sales of 1.47 trillion yen.

Despite the weak Japanese economy, "ANA performed well with demand remaining solid from both business and leisure travelers during the period," ANA Chief Executive Officer Shinichiro Ito said in a statement.

The country's airlines took a huge hit after tourism slumped in the wake of the March 2011 quake-tsunami disaster and subsequent nuclear crisis at Fukushima, the worst atomic accident in a generation.

The carriers also suffered from a row between Tokyo and Beijing over sovereignty of a group of islands in the East China Sea, which triggered anti-Japan rallies across China and a consumer boycott of Japanese brands after Tokyo nationalised some of the chain in September.

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