TOKYO: Japan's biggest airline ANA reported its worst ever annual loss on Friday (Apr 30) but predicted a rebound to profit this financial year, with its vice president seeing "light at the end of the tunnel" after the pandemic.
For the past year to March, ANA Holdings logged a record net loss of 404.6 billion yen (US$3.72 billion), compared with net profit of 27.6 billion yen in the previous 12 months.
The loss was smaller than the firm's earlier projection, after it sought to cut costs in areas from personnel and fuel to airport usage fees, and retired some aircraft sooner than planned.
But it expects to see a 3.5 billion yen net profit for the year to March 2022, as the coronavirus disruption that has battered the aviation industry worldwide begins to ease.
The sector "has faced an unprecedented contraction as a result of diminished passenger demand caused by immigration restrictions and stay-at-home orders in many countries", ANA said in a statement.
Its international passenger services saw a 95.5 per cent plunge in customer volume to 427,000 people, while domestic flights experienced a 70.5 per cent fall to 12.6 million customers.
ANA's annual sales dropped 63.1 per cent to 728.7 billion yen while it suffered an operating loss of 464.8 billion yen.
But the airline is now seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel", said Ichiro Fukuzawa, executive vice president and chief financial officer, in a statement.
"Our employees have endured a challenging year, but COVID-19 did not stop us from continuously improving our services, and we are ready to welcome back our customers," he added.
Vaccination efforts worldwide should help boost demand for aviation this year, ANA said.
For the year to March 2022, the firm expects to see sales of 1.38 trillion yen, up 89.4 per cent.
The results were announced as trading closed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, where ANA holdings managed to stay in positive territory throughout the day.
It closed up 1.13 per cent at 2,505 yen, while the headline Nikkei index lost 0.83 per cent.