(ATTN: ADDS photo, details in 5th para, budget carrier unit's Q1 results in last 2 paras)
SEOUL, May 15 (Yonhap) -- Korean Air Lines Co., the country's national flag carrier, said Wednesday its first-quarter net losses deepened compared to a year earlier due to a weak won.
Net losses expanded to 61.84 billion won (US$52 million) for the three months ending in March from 10.04 billion won in the same period a year earlier, the company said in a statement.
"The won's weakness against the dollar pushed up the company's jet fuel purchasing costs and foreign-exchange losses. When converted into the won, dollar-denominated debts increased in the first quarter," a company spokesman said over the phone.
The dollar rose to 1,137.80 won at the end of March this year from 1,066.50 won a year earlier, data from the Bank of Korea showed.
On top of the 75th International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual general meeting due to take place in Seoul in early June, higher travel demand in May and new services to Boston will help improve the bottom line in the second quarter, the statement said.
Operating profit fell 15 percent to 140.58 billion won in the first quarter from 166.34 billion won a year ago. Sales rose 1.2 percent to 3.14 trillion won from 3.1 trillion won, it said.
Meanwhile, its budget carrier unit, Jin Air Co., posted a 21 percent on-year decline in first-quarter net profit at 31.8 billion won, down from 40.3 billion won a year earlier.
Operating profit fell 4.1 percent on-year to 50.9 billion on sales of 290 billion won, a 3.6 percent on-year gain, during the same period.