May 10, 2019 / 12:42 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Turkish Airlines' quarterly loss more than doubles on higher costs

(Adds analyst quote, details)

ISTANBUL, May 10 (Reuters) - Turkish Airlines’ first-quarter losses more than doubled, hit by higher fuel prices and other costs.

The Turkish flag carrier, which operates flights to 306 destinations in 124 countries, reported a loss of 1.25 billion lira or $229 million in the first quarter, compared with a loss of 314 million lira or $86 million in the same period a year earlier.

Analysts said the loss was wider than an average forecast of a 662 million lira loss. That reflected higher oil prices due to currency volatility and increased unit costs due to staff and marketing expenses, analysts said.

“Net loss is even way higher than the lowest estimate in the street,” Yatirim Finansman Securities said in a note, adding a loss on fixed asset sales also weighed on the results.

But the carrier maintained its targets for the year, suggesting an expected recovery in the high season that starts at the end of May, J.P. Morgan said.

The company said it targets revenue of $14.1 billion and an EBITDAR margin of 22-24% at the end of this year. It also aims to carry 80 million passengers this year.

The airline moved its hub last month from Istanbul’s old Ataturk Airport to the new Istanbul Airport to the north of the city. Completing the hub move ahead of the high season is expected to help the company achieve its targets, J.P. Morgan said.

Shares in Turkish Airlines were down 1.04 percent at 1153 GMT, while the BIST 100 Index was trading almost flat. ($1 = 6.1272 liras) (Reporting by Birsen Altayli and Berna Suleymanoglu; Editing by Deepa Babington)

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