A resurgent Korean economy led by booming technology exports has helped the country’s largest carrier, Korean Air, post record first quarter sales and operating profits.
The airline also said it expects to beat its 2010 profit target due to rapidly-growing technology cargo, increased transit passenger numbers and plans to boost international routes.
Korean Air, the world’s largest commercial cargo carrier, posted operating profit for the first quarter of 220.2 billion won ($197.5 million) from 6.6 billion won year-on-year, and 154 billion won from the previous quarter.
“From next year, we will aggressively expand international routes by raising their frequency,” said Walter Cho, a senior vice president of Korean Air, after a conference with analysts. “Our supply will soar from next year, too.”
“The recovery of the local economy has played a role in increasing the number of overseas travellers headed for China and Southeast Asia as well as the Americas and Europe,” he added.
Cho also laid out plans to eat into the market of its biggest rival Singapore Airlines, the world’s second-most largest carrier by market value, by launching new routes to the Maldives and boosting the frequency of flights to Hawaii and Dubai.
The South Korean carrier will expand its fleet by 56 planes by 2016, costing an expected $10 billion.
Korean Air is upbeat about its 2010 outlook thanks to strong product shipments. South Korea maintained double-digit export growth in the first three months of this year.