Asiana posts loss as NKorea, bird flu dent travel

AP News
Posted: Aug 09, 2013 6:36 AM
Asiana posts loss as NKorea, bird flu dent travel

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asiana Airlines Inc., operator of the jet that crash landed in San Francisco last month, reported a second straight quarterly loss as North Korean war threats and a bird flu scare dented travel.

South Korea's No. 2 carrier said Friday its April-June net loss widened to 80 billion won ($72 million) from 48 billion won in the previous quarter.

Analysts had forecast a loss of 32 billion won, according to Factset, a financial information provider.

Asiana blamed lower travel demand after North Korea unleashed a torrent of threats including vows of nuclear strikes in March and April in response to U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Japanese travel to South Korea decreased 32 percent, Asiana said. A bird flu scare dented South Korean travel to China, Asiana's key market.

The company suffered smaller cargo shipments as sales of TV and other displays plunged and auto parts shipments dropped, outweighing a rise in smartphone exports during the three months. Asiana Airlines is based in Seoul, South Korea, home to electronics giants Samsung and LG and automakers Hyundai and Kia.

The July 6 crash landing of Asiana Flight 214 killed three Chinese passengers and injured dozens. The Boeing 777 landed short of the tarmac and its tail hit a seawall. One of the passengers killed was struck by a fire truck, according to U.S. authorities.

The accident was the company's worst since a domestic flight crashed in 1993, killing 66 people.

Park Sung-bong, an analyst at Hana Daetoo Securities, said the accident is expected to add 20 billion won of non-operating losses to Asiana's bottom line in the third quarter and is likely to dent demand from Chinese travelers. Many Chinese travelers flying to North America or Europe transfer in South Korea instead of taking direct flights from China.

"There weren't much cancellation during the peak season in July and August but during the off-peak season, there will be an impact. For the same price, some people will use other airliners," he said. "Even without the damage from the accident, the third quarter earnings will not be good because of low travel demand from Japan."