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Korean Air Posts Third Quarter Profit

Despite the drop in passenger traffic, the pivot to more cargo allowed the carrier to remain in the black

by Business Traveler

November 18, 2020

For the second consecutive quarter, Korean Air has announced it recorded a profit in the third quarter of 2020. Bucking the general downward trend in the aviation industry, the carrier reported an operating profit of $6.7 million on revenues of $1.3 billion.

The 53 percent drop in passenger demand year over year caused by COVID-19 travel restrictions was offset by an increase in cargo rates and the expansion of cargo transport.

“The aviation industry continues to suffer from the pandemic but Korean Air was able to achieve a second profitable quarter due to our strong cargo operations and the sacrifices of our employees,” said the airline’s CEO Walter Cho.

Passenger demand is expected to continue to decline in the fourth quarter because of COVID-19. But air cargo should remain strong with peak season demand for shipments of semiconductors, auto parts and e-commerce supplies.

In addition, South Korea’s air travel industry is consolidating with the announcement that Korean Air plans to acquire rival Asiana Airlines. The ₩1.8 trillion ($1.6 billion) deal was made “to stabilize the Korean aviation industry, which is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Hanjin Group, owner of Korean Air.