Korean Air wrapped up a shocking second half of 2008 with a USD474.4 million net loss in the fourth quarter (to 31-Dec-08) almost three times worse than median analyst projections. As ever, the company remained optimistic about the outlook, projecting a healthy operating profit in 2009 and signing up for two more A380s, for a total of ten.
Korean Air net profit margin: 1Q08 to 4Q08
In reality, Korean Air is massively exposed to the country's economic carnage and plummeting exports, which are hurting the airline's passenger and cargo revenues and yields.
Korean Air operating vs net profit margins (%): 2004 to 2008
The airline's focus for 2009 will be on rebuilding overseas travel demand, and it will continue to invest heavily in the development of its passenger and cargo business, including constructing a new cargo terminal in Mainland China. Overall capex is currently forecast to rise by 50% this year, although if economic conditions continue to wane, it would not be a surprise if KAL reconsiders some of its investment.