Brazilian LCC GOL Airlines, battered by higher fuel expenses and currency fluctuations, posted a steep third-quarter loss of BRL409 million ($110 million), reversed from a net income of BRL329.9 million in the year-ago quarter.

The São Paulo-based carrier saw revenues climb 8.3% to BRL2.9 billion, while expenses jumped 15.6% to BRL2.7 billion. The company's operating income of BRL180.5 million was down 44% year-over-year (YOY).

“This quarter was particularly challenging due to the accelerated depreciation of the US dollar against the real, a trend that has already begun to reverse, and due to the higher jet fuel prices,” CEO Paulo Kakinoff said. According to GOL, fuel costs per available seat mile increased 46.6% YOY because of a 45.9% jump in fuel cost per liter.

Higher fuel costs drove the carrier's cost per available seat kilometer (ASK) up 11.5% Factoring out fuel, unit costs fell 3.4%. Passenger revenue per ASK incresed 5% YOY.

GOL’s systemwide ASKs grew 3.7% last quarter, while revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) rose 2.2%

The real’s 3.8% depreciation against the US dollar led to a net exchange and monetary variation loss of BRL187.3 million, GOL said.

Looking ahead, the company is projecting full-year ASK growth of 1%-2%, followed by a 5%-10% increase in 2019. The growth will be driven by a 30%-40% jump in the airline’s small but growing international network. Among the new routes slated to be in place for all of 2019 are flights to both Miami and Orlando from Brasilia and Fortaleza. International ASKs accounted for 11.3% of GOL’s total ASKs through the first three quarters.

Domestic ASKs are projected to grow 1%-3% next year. The carrier plans to end 2018 with an operating fleet of 118 aircraft and will add 3-5 airliners in 2019.

Sean Broderick, sean.broderick@aviationweek.com