India private carrier Jet Airways slips to Q1 loss

MUMBAI, July 22, 2011 (AFP) – India’s largest private sector airline, Jet Airways, has swung to a quarterly net loss from a profit a year earlier, it reported Friday, as rising fuel costs offset a rise in passenger air traffic. India this week lowered its growth forecast for this financial year to 8.6 percent from nine percent, its economy hit by a string of interest rate hikes to tame inflation which is nearing double digits. Jet posted a net loss of 1.23 billion rupees ($27 million) for the first quarter ended June, from a profit of 35 million rupees in the same period a year earlier.

Total revenues for the quarter rose 18.5 percent to 35.82 billion rupees.

Analysts had forecast Jet to show a higher loss, of 2.7 billion rupees.

Air passenger traffic has been rising this fiscal year, leading to healthy seat occupancies for airlines, but this has been offset by steep fuel costs, which have hurt most Indian airlines’ earnings.

Jet said its fuel costs rose 57 percent in the April to June quarter.

Jet expects strong growth in international business in coming months, a statement said, but added that the second quarter would be “tough” due to firm global crude oil prices.

In the first quarter