All Nippon Airways parent ANA Holdings saw operating losses narrow to Y64.6 billion ($584 million) for the first quarter of its 2021 financial year, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on air travel demand.

Consolidated revenue for the three months ended 30 June rose 63.4% to Y199 billion, aided by a strong performance in the airline’s cargo business and continued cost cutting, says the carrier.

ANA 787 and 777-300ER

Source: Greg Waldron/FlightGlobal

ANA aircraft at Tokyo Narita International Airport in February 2020

ANA suffered a net loss of Y51.1 billion for the quarter, an improvement from a net loss of Y109 billion a year earlier.

“Our performance this quarter has validated the strategic approach adopted by the entire ANA Group in the face of numerous and complex challenges that have affected the entire airline industry,” says ANA Holdings chief financial officer Ichiro Fukuzawa,

“Though Covid-19 and accompanying immigration restrictions have dampened demand for international travel, this turnaround was made possible by the impressive growth of our cargo business, rebounding travel demand, and targeted cost-cutting measures that have led to the greatest improvement in quarterly financial results since Covid-19 started impacting our business in the fourth quarter of FY2019.”

While ANA’s international business improved in the quarter with revenues of Y12.9 billion, up 36.5% from a year earlier, its load factor was just 19.8%, down 6.4 percentage points from a year earlier. International ASKs rose 91%, and RPKs 43.9%.

Things were somewhat better with the carrier’s domestic network, although load factors in the first quarter were just 42.7%, up 12.9 percentage points from a year earlier. Domestic revenues were Y50.2 billion, double the figure a year earlier. ASKs rose 77%, and RPKs rose 154%.

Cargo, on the other hand, enjoyed a very strong quarter. International cargo revenues more than doubled to Y66 billion. Freight carried also more than doubled to 233,000t.

“For international cargo services, ANA Cargo actively responded to strong demand by operating additional one-time cargo flights and utilizing passenger aircraft to fly cargo dedicated flights,” says ANA.

“In addition, ANA Cargo introduced freighter aircraft for use on certain routes, for example operating the Boeing 777F aircraft on the Tokyo Narita – Los Angeles route. By capturing demand for the transportation of goods such as automotive parts, semiconductors, and seasonal products including North American cherries, cargo volume greatly exceeded the amount transported during the same period in the previous year and quarterly revenue hit a record high.”

As of 30 June, ANA’s cash and cash equivalents stood at Y629 billion, up from Y542 billion a year earlier.