While most of the airlines are still counting losses amid the ongoing pandemic, the Seoul-based carrier Korean Air has swung into operating profit for the fourth consecutive quarter.
On May 14, 2021, the biggest South Korean airline Korean Air announced that it ended the first quarter of 2021 with an operating profit of 124.5 billion won ($110 million).
Following the financial report, sales fell 24% year-on-year to 1.7498 trillion won ($1.544 billion) due to low passenger demand caused by the pandemic. However, despite low numbers in passenger traffic, the cargo demand tipped the balance and made an operating profit possible.
“Korean Air maximized cargo operations by fully utilizing its 23 freighters, operating cargo-only passenger flights and converting passenger jets into freighters,” read the airline’s statement.
According to Korean Air estimates for the second quarter of 2021, the cargo business is expected to be positive because of a “lack of belly cargo supply of passenger flights, a recovery of global trade, and increased shipping and logistics demand”.
However, the outlook of the international air travel recovery still continues to be dimmed by the ongoing pandemic and travel restrictions. Korean Air said it would operate its network flexibly to meet all the factors and trends that the COVID-19 pandemic presents. Despite the challenges in customers’ operations, Korean Air succeeded in increasing passenger sales by operating chartered flights for repatriation and business as well as flights to nowhere.