• Kyodo

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Japan Airlines Corp. will not lower its profit goal for fiscal 2011 despite the impact that the March 11 disaster is having on passenger traffic, especially on international flights, its president said Wednesday.

Masaru Onishi told reporters he believes it is possible for the rehabilitating airline to post a ¥75.7 billion group operating profit for the year that began this month, although that goal was set before the disaster struck.

Domestic passenger demand has “stopped falling and began gradually rising from around the end of March,” he said, adding that the struggling carrier will face a “harsh situation” for international flights because it intends to maintain cuts on some routes even after the Golden Week holiday period from late April to early May ends.

JAL will also try to attain the goal by accelerating measures to reduce expenses, he said, although he ruled out additional personnel cuts.

The ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No.1 power plant has caused demand to fall particularly among foreign business passengers. The severity of the crisis was elevated Tuesday to the highest level of 7 on an international scale, putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

JAL filed for bankruptcy protection in January with group debts of ¥2.3 trillion, making it the biggest nonfinancial corporate failure in postwar Japanese history. It then embarked on a government-led process to rehabilitate itself.

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