While most airlines are still counting losses, the biggest South Korean air carrier Korean Air is expected to end the first quarter of 2021 with an operating profit.

According to a poll released by Yonhap Infomax, the financial arm of Yonhap News Agency, the South Korea’s top airline is predicted to post an operating profit of 76.6 billion won ($68.3 million) in the first quarter of 2021, compared with a loss of 82.3 billion won ($73.2 million) in the same period of 2020. 

The positive financial forecasts for the period from January to March 2021 were attributed to the airline's strong performance in the logistics and cargo business, as the carrier previously admitted to having plans in reinforcement of its cargo business strategy by “proactively responding to the market changes”. 

"The amount of cargo handled by Korean Air reached a record high amount last month," the NH Investment & Securities said in its report, Yonhap reported. "The disturbed travel at the Suez Canal led to more demand for air shipping services."

Talking about the airline’s financial outlook in 2021, chief executive of Korean Air Woo Kee-hong in a press briefing on March 31, 2021, said he expected their cargo services to perform strongly, while the recovery of international air travel might take “considerable time”.

“Our cargo sector expects to perform strongly in the first half of the year due to a continued shortage of passenger flight belly capacity, recovery in trade and shipping logistics problems,” Kee-Hong said.

On February 4, 2021, Korean Air announced it navigated through the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 with an operating profit of 238.3 billion won ($213 million). According to Korean Air annual financial report of 2020, only the cargo business tipped the balance and made operating profit possible.

 

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Korean Air ended 2020 with $213 million operating profit.