Japan's ANA feels profit squeeze from yen weakening

TOKYO (Reuters) - ANA Holdings said a weakened yen, the result of policies to revive the Japanese economy, have hurt profits, forcing Japan's largest carrier to almost halve its outlook for operating profit this business year.

The carrier, which has to pay more for fuel in yen terms when the Japanese currency falls, also faces less appetite by Japanese to travel overseas where their yen buys less.

The carrier trimmed its operating profit forecast for the year to March 31 to 60 billion yen (S$759 million) from 110 billion yen. That is less than the 97 billion yen average prediction by 15 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

"The main reason for an increase in operating expenses was a rise in fuel costs," Mr Kiyoshi Tonomoto, an executive vice president at ANA, told a news briefing in Tokyo to announce the company's results for the quarter that ended September 30.

The grounding of its Boeing Co 787 Dreamliners also prompted the downgrade to a less ambitious profit forecast because it had delayed the expansion of the airline's network, Mr Tonomoto added.

In a bid to boost profitability, the airline said it would add destinations in the United States and Asia, better match aircraft to its routes, expand low cost carrier units and seek new sales in related services such as pilot training and maintenance.

The company also said it would cut staffing at its headquarters by a third and reassign the workers to other roles.

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