* Increases full year operating profit by 8.5 pct
* Quarterly operating profit at 74.3 bln yen, above estimates (Adds comment)
TOKYO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Japan Airlines Co (JAL) on Tuesday raised its full-year operating profit forecast by 8.5 percent, citing an improved domestic economy and lower-than-expected fuel costs.
JAL now expects an operating profit of 166 billion yen ($1.5 billion) for the year to March 31, higher than its earlier forecast of 153 billion yen.
That compares with an average operating profit forecast of 158.8 billion yen from 11 analysts, Thomson Reuters data shows.
“The Japanese economy is showing a firm growth base,” JAL President Yoshiharu Ueki told an earnings briefing, adding that strong demand in Japan had helped raise prices by around 6 percent.
JAL cut its fuel cost forecast and now expects Singapore jet kerosene to average $60 a barrel for the full business year compared with an earlier prediction of $66.
For the three months ended Sept. 30, the Japanese airline reported an operating profit of 74.3 billion yen up, from 70.3 billion yen a year ago. That was above an average estimate for 68.5 billion yen from two analysts. ($1 = 113.0900 yen) (Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Edwina Gibbs)