Korean Air turned red into black last year, thanks to a rebound in passenger traffic and revitalised exports of information technology (IT) products. South Korea's flagship carrier made a net profit of 111.9 billion won (about HK$696 million), compared with a net loss of 589.4 billion won in the previous year. Operating revenue rose 10 per cent to 6.24 trillion won last year. Operating profit margin was 4.7 per cent. Revenue passenger kilometres (RPK), a measure of distances flown in aggregate by paying passengers, rose almost 9 per cent last year to 41.8 billion RPK. Yield of its passenger business also rose 1.3 per cent to 85.94 won per kilometre. The airline attributed the growth last year to the recovery from the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. There was also a surge in China traffic and a remarkable increase in Korean outbound travel last year. 'China route traffic upsurged and posted growth level of 43 per cent,' the carrier said. 'Korea outbound traffic increased with the strengthening of the Korean won.' The recovery in exports, especially in IT products, helped pump up cargo volume. The US West coast port lock-out in October last year also created high demand for its cargo service. Freight tonne kilometre (FTK) jumped 12 per cent to 6.2 billion FTK during last year. Cargo yield climbed a comparative 1.8 per cent to 269.76 won per kilometre. Passenger and cargo capacity increased almost 6 per cent and 9 per cent year on year, respectively. A strong won did not only encourage outbound traffic, but also helped the airlines to reduce cost, the carrier said. Although jet fuel consumption increased 8 per cent last year with more services, annual jet fuel cost dropped 0.4 per cent. Ths was caused by a decrease in average unit price brought about by a strong won and better account efficiency. Last month, the airline recorded year on year growth in RPK of 5 per cent to 3.56 billion RPK. FTK rose a comparative 28 per cent to 478 million FTK last month. With a fleet of 118 aircraft, the carrier operates 400 passenger flights every day to 84 cities in 29 countries.