Asiana losses deepen in second quarter after fatal crash
Carrier affected by fall in travel demand amid tensions in Korea and bird flu scare in China
Asiana Airlines, the South Korean carrier that suffered a fatal jet crash in San Francisco last month, reported a second-quarter loss bigger than analysts estimated as travel demand waned.
The net loss was 80.4 billion won (HK$562.8 million) in the three months to June, compared with the 49.9 billion won estimated by analysts. A year earlier, the airline had a loss of 37.7 billion won.
Asiana said yesterday it carried fewer Japanese passengers because of tensions with North Korea while the bird flu scare cut China travel demand in the second quarter.
South Korea's second-biggest carrier might take a charge of at least 20 billion won from the crash of its Boeing 777, and that would push the company into a loss this year, five analysts said after the July 6 accident.
"The crash in San Francisco will further dent Asiana's earnings in the third quarter as customers hesitate to fly its planes," Park Eun-kyung, an analyst at Samsung Securities, said before the announcement.
Three people died while more than 300 survived in the crash.
Insurance would not cover the loss of the aircraft, litigation and other charges and an erosion in passengers following the crash, Cho Byoung-hee, an analyst at Kiwoom Securities, said last month.
The accident dented Asiana's reputation as one of the top carriers in the world for service.
The airline also faces the risk of losing customers to rivals including Korean Air Lines as its second crash since 2011 raises safety concerns.
Asiana is one of only seven carriers in the world with a five-star rating for services from Skytrax, which also named it airline of the year in 2010.
The number of visitors from Japan fell 26 per cent to 1.34 million in the first six months, according to the Korea Tourism Organisation. Asiana's Japanese routes bear the highest yields, followed by China, according to its first-quarter earnings report.
The yen has weakened more than 10 per cent against the US dollar this year.
Asiana increased the number of flights by 16 per cent and added 10 more planes in the past three years as it expanded services to the US, Europe and other regions, according to the South Korean transport ministry.
The carrier would hire 118 pilots, 100 maintenance staff and 116 cabin crew every year until 2016 as it aimed to have 96 planes by 2017 from 79 at the end of last year, the ministry said.