February 14, 2019 / 5:58 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Copa expects Brazil, Argentina air travel markets to remain weak in 2019

(Adds details of results, background)

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Panama’s Copa Holdings expects demand for flights in Argentina and Brazil to remain weak in 2019, executives said on Thursday during a presentation on its earnings, which showed its profit in 2018 had slumped 75 percent to $88 million.

Copa’s results were significantly affected by a $190 million writeoff as the company decided to phase out its fleet of 19 Embraer planes. The planes will gradually be replaced by Boeing aircraft.

Still, even without that charge, profits would have dropped 25 percent in 2018 from a year earlier.

Other factors that impacted the results of Copa, which flies only to destinations in the Americas, were high oil prices for much of the year, and weak currencies that plagued Brazil and Argentina, two of the region’s most important markets.

Executives said on a conference call with analysts that ticket sales were particularly hard hit in Argentina, where they tumbled 40 percent in 2018 as the South American nation faced a deep recession. (Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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