April 28, 2020 / 6:49 AM / a month ago

Japan airline ANA skips earnings forecast, dividend amid virus slump

TOKYO (Reuters) - ANA Holdings (9202.T), Japan’s biggest airline, said on Tuesday it would not release an earnings forecast for the full year amid the coronavirus pandemic that has caused an unprecedented slump in air travel and could further stagnate the global economy.

FILE PHOTO: An employee, wearing a protective mask following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), passes in front of an All Nippon Airways (ANA) counter at the almost empty Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan, March 14, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

ANA also said it will not pay a dividend this year.

The airline has cut international passenger flights by 90% and domestic services by 70% as the coronavirus outbreak and related travel restrictions slash demand for seats on its planes.

ANA, which before the pandemic had expected operating profit of 140 billion yen ($1.31 billion) for the business year that ended on March 31, posted a 61 billion yen operating profit for the year, 63% less than a year ago.

International and domestic bookings at ANA and local rival Japan Airlines (9201.T) in April have been about a tenth of what they were a year ago. To cope with the downturn ANA has delayed the hiring of some cabin crew.

The airline is also seeking 100 billion yen of commercial bank loans and a further 350 billion yen credit line including from the government-run Development Bank of Japan. In a stimulus package equivalent to a fifth of Japan’s annual GDP, the government has promised financial support for Japan’s carriers.

ANA said it will release a forecast when it can.

The airline’s results statement outlined plans to take delivery of 13 new aircraft in the financial year ending March 31, 2021, but ANA Chief Financial Officer Ichiro Fukuzawa told reporters that was flexible.

Cargo demand has held up much better than passenger demand, he said, with the lack of belly space due to cuts to passenger flights pushing up freight rates since March.

ANA, like many other global carriers, is now using passenger aircraft for cargo-only flights. It put on 124 extra cargo flights in March and 595 in April, Fukuzawa said.

“If it helps support us we want to increase the number of those extra flights,” he said.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Kirsten Donovan

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