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Japan-Update

Japan's big airlines ANA and JAL likely landed profit gains

Business travel, tourism, cargo transport all up

ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines are both enjoying solid earnings on strong demand for business trips, travel to Japan and cargo transport.

TOKYO -- Leading Japanese carriers ANA Holdings and Japan Airlines are expected to report profit growth for the April-December period as a recovering global economy lifted demand from business and leisure travelers and boosted cargo shipments.

ANA's operating profit likely soared 27% on the year to 165 billion yen ($1.51 billion) for the nine months, the highest ever for the period. Sales probably rose about 10% to 1.46 trillion yen.

JAL likely will log a 5% rise in operating profit to around 145 billion yen on sales of 1.04 trillion yen, up 6%.

With corporate earnings growing in Japan, more business travelers flew domestic and international routes. More people in the business class cabin pushed up sales per passenger.

Meanwhile, the airlines carried more tourists to Japan from greater Asia, Europe and elsewhere. They also saw more demand from people traveling from Asia to North America or elsewhere via a connecting flight in Japan. ANA unit All Nippon Airways increased its Tokyo-Los Angeles flights at the end of October 2017, while JAL has added flights between Tokyo and Bangkok.

In cargo operations, the airlines hauled more higher-value items such as auto- and electronics parts. Shipments from Japan to the U.S. and Europe increased, as did those from China to North America by way of Japan.

JAL will release its April-December results on Wednesday and ANA will do so on Thursday. For the full year through March, ANA sees operating profit climbing 10% to 160 billion yen, with JAL forecasting a 3% drop to 166 billion yen. Neither is expected to revise their estimate but actual results may come in higher amid strong travel demand.

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