Japan Airlines Corp. said Wednesday its consolidated operating profit for the April-September half dropped 48.3 percent from the same period last year to 8.1 billion yen.

The nation’s flagship carrier, which posted a loss in the 2005 business year, has been hit by a drop in domestic passengers and a surge in crude oil prices.

For the first half of 2006, JAL said group net profit came to 1.5 billion yen, compared with a net loss of 12 billion yen in the same period a year ago, thanks to restructuring moves that mainly included the selloff of assets.

JAL said group pretax profit came to 5.3 billion yen, down 45.5 percent from the previous year, while group sales in the period came to 1.15 trillion yen, up 3.4 percent, partly due to a fare hike implemented in April.

For the full year to March 31, JAL, which pledged to return to profitability in 2006, projects group operating profit to hit 13 billion yen, down 4 billion yen from its initial forecast.

The carrier expects the decline in passengers to continue for domestic flights and cut its group sales forecast to 2.28 trillion yen, down 20 billion yen from the initial forecast.

JAL also projects consolidated net profit to reach 3 billion yen for the full year and group pretax profit to hit 500 million yen — both unchanged from the initial projections.

JAL President and CEO Haruka Nishimatsu said the carrier will revise its earlier restructuring program and outline a new four-year plan covering 2007 to 2010 in February.

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