Japan's ANA Holdings raises profit forecast as travel demand recovers

The logo of All Nippon Airways (ANA) is seen at Tokyo International Airport
The logo of All Nippon Airways (ANA) at Tokyo International Airport, commonly known as Haneda Airport, in Tokyo, Japan October 27, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

TOKYO, Feb 2 (Reuters) - The operator of Japan's largest airline, ANA Holdings Inc (9202.T), raised its full-year profit forecast as travel demand recovers following the easing of COVID-19 border curbs.

ANA now expects operating profit to reach 95 billion yen ($739 million) in the year through March, up from a previous estimate of 65 billion yen. The consensus forecast by 13 analysts polled by Refinitiv was for full-year profit of 79.3 billion yen.

The company reported operating profit of 99 billion yen in the nine months through December, compared to a loss of 116 billion yen a year earlier, it said in a statement.

Competitor Japan Airlines Co (9201.T) also returned to profit, with pre-tax earnings of 24.7 billion yen through December from a loss of 188.7 billion yen the year before.

ANA Holdings swung back to a half-year profit in September, just before Japan fully reopened to tourists, ending some of the world's strictest border measures to contain COVID infections.

Visitors to Japan rose to 1.37 million in December, the national tourism agency reported last month, though still down 46% from pre-pandemic levels.

But arrivals from mainland China remain just a fraction of what they were in 2019 due to Beijing's strict COVID controls that have only recently been eased.

"We have strong expectations that travel between Japan and China will return to pre-corona levels as the infection situation settles down," ANA CFO Kimihiro Nakahori told reporters.

($1 = 128.5600 yen)

Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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