• KYODO, AFP-JIJI

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Japan Airlines Co. said Thursday it had posted a group net loss of ¥22.9 billion ($215 million) for the January-March period, marking its first quarterly loss since it went public again in 2012, as the new coronavirus pandemic continues to dent demand for air travel and upend the global aviation industry.

JAL’s group net profit for the year that ended in March tumbled 64.6 percent from a year earlier to ¥53.41 billion, while operating profit sank 42.9 percent to ¥100.63 billion on sales of ¥1.41 trillion, down 5.1 percent.

The company did not provide an earnings forecast for the current business year as the outlook remains unclear due to restrictions imposed on people’s movement and business activities around the world.

JAL said demand had plunged owing to entry bans around the world, the cancellation of major domestic events and a state of emergency in Japan with authorities urging citizens not to travel.

“Our group is facing an unprecedented situation,” the company said in a statement.

For now, JAL plans to cut its number of flights by 90 percent on international routes and more than 60 percent on domestic routes from its flight schedule announced before the pandemic.

But the firm said it remained optimistic about the outlook.

“The decline in flight demand due to the impact of the new coronavirus is a temporary phenomenon and our mid- and long-term forecast that demand for flights from and to Japan will grow greatly has remained unchanged,” it said.

Airlines in Japan have experienced a big drop in bookings for international and domestic flights due to the pandemic.

ANA Holdings Inc. said two days before that it had logged its biggest quarterly group net loss of ¥58.7 billion for the three months to March and also refrained from offering an earnings forecast for the current business year amid the uncertainty caused by the outbreak.

ANA had been expecting strong sales but also higher costs as it prepared to expand services in the greater Tokyo region ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

But the pandemic has forced the games to be delayed by a year and battered Japan’s tourism sector, while many countries have canceled or limited international and domestic travel.

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