By Kim Kwang-tae
SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., South Korea's biggest shipping company by sales, said Thursday that its net losses narrowed in 2019 from a year earlier due to a rise in sales.
Net losses narrowed to 592 billion won (US$501 million) in 2019 from 790 billion won a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing.
Operating losses also narrowed to 304 billion won in 2019 from 558.6 billion won a year ago. Sales rose 5.6 percent on-year to 5.51 trillion won in 2019, the company said.
Hyundai Merchant has been mired in operating losses since the second quarter of 2015.
Hyundai Merchant said its business performance in 2019 was mainly driven by rationalizing its service network as well as maximizing utilization of five new very large crude carriers.
The shipper said its profitability could improve this year as a result of new cooperation with THE Alliance and the deployment of twelve 24,000-TEU, or twenty-foot equivalent unit, container ships.
Hyundai Merchant said it "will continue to secure global competitiveness through enhancing operational efficiency, strengthening cost-saving efforts and establishing customer-oriented solutions."
Hyundai Merchant has said its 12 container ships in the 24,000-TEU class are to operate in order starting in April on a route connecting Asia and Europe.
In April, Hyundai Merchant is set to join of THE Alliance, one of the world's top three shipping alliances along with 2M Alliance and Ocean Alliance.
The South Korean shipper has been serving as a strategic partner for 2M Alliance operated by Maersk Line of Denmark and Mediterranean Shipping Co. of Switzerland since April 2017, but their partnership is set to expire in March.