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Japan's ANA net profit up 72.1% in first half
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Oct 28, 2011

Japan's All Nippon Airways on Friday said its first-half interim net profit jumped 72.1 percent as brisk international demand offset the impact of the March 11 disaster on domestic flights.

But the carrier lowered its full-year sales forecast, citing global economic uncertainty, softening domestic demand amid Japan's recession-hit economy and the effects of currency volatility.

The Japanese carrier, which operated the maiden commercial flight of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner earlier this week, said group net profit in the April to September period was 22.9 billion yen ($302 million), up from 13.3 billion yen for the same period last year.

First-half revenue rose 3.0 percent from a year earlier to 704.8 billion yen, while operating profit fell 11.8 percent to 50.1 billion yen, it said.

Sales of domestic passenger services fell 1.4 percent as demand for flights at home remained sluggish in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami followed by meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

But sales of international passenger services gained 12.5 percent as demand recovered for overseas flights, which had also been affected by the disaster, the company said.

ANA also said cost-cutting efforts contributed to the profit and revenue increase, as it sought to minimise the impact of the quake-tsunami with demand-spurring initiatives and a 30 billion yen efficiency programme.

In the wake of the disasters, the airline cut services and deployed smaller planes to cope with the post-quake drop in demand.

But the carrier lowered its full-year sales forecast to 1.40 trillion yen from an earlier estimate of 1.41 trillion, while leaving its net profit projections unchanged.

"Performance during the first half has for the most part been on track," ANA said.

"However, the outlook for the second half of the fiscal year remains unclear due to factors such as world economic trends, concerns about recession in Japan and overseas, and the impact of exchange rates," it added.

ANA hopes to stimulate demand by launching its Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which was delivered to Japan's biggest airline in September ahead of regular domestic services next month.

Following its inauguration chartered flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong on Wednesday, ANA president Shinichiro Ito said he plans to use the aircraft on its European routes in the future.

Analysts say ANA's cost-cutting efforts will be helped by the increasing use of the Dreamliner.

Boeing says the twin-aisle 787's construction, partly from lightweight composite materials, means it consumes 20 percent less fuel than comparable planes, an attractive proposition for airlines facing soaring fuel costs.

The 787 is the first mid-sized plane able to fly long-haul, but the project has been hampered by a development process that ran years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

In July, ANA and Southeast Asia's largest budget carrier AirAsia said they will form a joint venture to establish a low-cost airline based in Tokyo.

ANA also holds a 33.4 percent stake in budget carrier Peach, which aims to begin domestic services out of Kansai International Airport in the western Japanese city of Osaka in March 2012.

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Boeing Dreamliner makes first commercial flight
Hong Kong (AFP) Oct 26, 2011
Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner made its first commercial flight on Wednesday, giving a handful of deep-pocketed passengers the chance to fly into history on what is touted as an aviation breakthrough. Carrying 252 people including corporate VIPs, aviation buffs and a large press pack, the All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight flew from Tokyo's Narita airport to Hong Kong, where it was met by lion dan ... read more

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