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JAL sees dark clouds ahead on recession

JAPAN Airlines Corp careened deep into the red last fiscal year and forecast another annual loss even as it slashes costs this year by half a billion dollars.

Asia's biggest carrier by sales, also known as JAL, said yesterday it posted a group net loss of 63.2 billion yen (US$649 million) for the 12 months through March, in contrast to last year's 16.9 billion yen profit.

International and business travel slumped during the period, hit first by volatile fuel prices and then by a slowing global economy.

The number of passengers on the airline's international routes fell 12.4 percent, while domestic routes carried 1.8 percent fewer people, JAL said.

"As demand for air transport weakened due to the effects of the global financial crisis, the JAL Group's core business of air transportation, and its other airline-related and travel-related businesses sustained sharp declines in earnings," the Tokyo-based company said in a statement.

It had an operating loss of 50.9 billion yen on 12.5 percent lower revenue of 1.95 trillion yen, despite cost-shaving moves including annual bonus cuts and early retirement programs.

JAL forecast a 63 billion yen net loss and sales of 1.75 trillion yen for this fiscal year ending March 2010.


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