All Nippon Airways has projected a return to the black in the year to March 2022.

The Japanese carrier issued the forecast despite reporting an annual net loss of more than 400 billion yen (£263 million).

The result came as the Japanese economy was hit by the Covid crisis and ANA’s international revenue slumped by 93% year-on-year.

The carrier’s response included the early retirement of a “large number of aircraft”, including 28 mainly wide-body types.

In normal years, ANA woukd carry almost 55 million passengers a year on its domestic and international routes.

The airline said: “While large-scale route network suspensions are still ongoing, we are closely monitoring demand to determine which routes to continue operating, and are looking for opportunities to fly temporary routes to destinations with specific demand.”

Looking forward, ANA said it expected an “improved business environment” due to government policies and an improving global economy.

However, it described Covid-19 as still representing an economic risk.

ANA expects that Covid-19 precautions such as prolonged stay-at-home requests in major cities and immigration restrictions will continue to impact its financial results,” the airline added.

“Conversely, public vaccination has started throughout Japan in February, and based on data from countries where vaccination has progressed, it appears that the spread of Covid-19 can be contained, which will lead to greater passenger confidence to fly and a recovery in air transport demand.”

Chief financial officer Ichiro Fukuzawa said:“Though we faced numerous and complex challenges this year, it is evident that ANA took the necessary steps to strengthen operations and that we are on track for recovery.

“Everything that we did, from raising capital through the public offering to securing cash through subordinated loans and including the strategic recording of special losses on the value of our wide-body aircraft, was done to strengthen our finances.

“Now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel, ANA is in a position to meet rising demand by providing safe, reliable and convenient travel options at the same level of customer experience we are recognised for.

“Our employees have endured a challenging year, but Covid-19 did not stop us from continuously improving our services, and we are ready to welcome back our customers. 

“We are forecasting a return to profit for the fiscal year of 2021, and are confident that the actions we took during this past year will guide us.”