At a time when many airlines around the world are bleeding losses, Korean Air has managed to deliver a profit.
The airline reports that, despite a 44 per cent year-on-year drop in revenue over the period April to June, the second quarter returned a net income of US$136 million.
By comparison, Korean Air ran at a net loss of US$321 million over Q2 last year.
While the airline was one of the first to ground its international fleet at the beginning of the outbreak, the company said that second-quarter success has been achieved through a deliberate pivot towards the freight market.
To that end, the airline reports a 17.3 per cent year-on-year increase in freight ton kilometres (FTK).
“While the sharp decline in the number of passenger flights has made it difficult for the airline to make use of belly cargo, Korean Air responded by increasing the operation rate of freighters by 22 per cent year-on-year through strict maintenance checks and oversight, increasing supply by 1.9 per cent,” said a spokesman for the airline.
Revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) might have dropped off 92.2 per cent year-on-year, but Korean notes that a short, sharp lockdown has seen domestic tourism in recovery since April.
This includes the Seoul-Jeju routing, often held to be the world’s busiest.
Korean said that it plans to push ahead with its cargo strategy in the second half of 2020, looking to maximise revenue by transporting time-sensitive, high-priced cargo: disinfectant products, e-commerce goods, semiconductor devices and automobile parts.
It intends to further expand its freight capacity by converting some of its passenger fleet for freighter service.