The operator of Japan's largest airline, ANA Holdings, 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 ($739 million) in the year through March, up from a previous estimate of ¥65 billion. The consensus forecast by 13 analysts polled by Refinitiv was for full-year profit of ¥79.3 billion.

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

Competitor Japan Airlines also returned to profit, with pre-tax earnings of ¥24.7 billion through December from a loss of ¥188.7 billion 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-19 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-19 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.