(Adds comment on threatened strike by pilots and fuel hedging)
JAKARTA, May 3 (Reuters) - Flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia posted a smaller net loss in the first quarter and its chief executive said the airline was on track to return to profitability in 2018, depending on the fuel price.
State-owned Garuda reported a $64.3 million net loss for the January-March period, compared with a revised $101.2 million loss in the same period last year.
“We are on track to post a profit in 2018, but will depend on the fuel price going ahead,” CEO Pahala Mansury told reporters on Thursday.
Garuda said earlier this year it expected a modest net profit of $8.9 million for the full year on the back of higher passenger volumes, after reporting a net loss of $216.5 million for 2017.
“We see our performance is showing an improvement compared to 2017,” Mansury said.
Referring to threatened strike action by pilots, who are demanding board changes over cost-cutting efforts, he said this was beyond his power but urged the pilots to “work together” to resolve this for the sake of passengers.
Garuda’s finance director, Helmi Imam Satriyono, said the airline planned to increase its hedging of fuel to 26 percent in 2018 from around 12 percent last year.
Higher oil prices are increasing cost pressures for global airlines for aviation fuel. (Reporting by Tabita Diela Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Sunil Nair/David Evans)