(Adds comments by Gol vice president)
By Juliana Schincariol
SAO PAULO, May 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian airline Gol Linhas Aereas posted its 13th consecutive quarterly loss on Tuesday as sales stagnated and a strong dollar drove up costs.
The first-quarter net loss of 672.7 million Brazilian reais ($222.80 million) was seven times bigger than a year earlier and larger than the average forecast of a loss of 636 million reais in a Reuters survey of analysts.
The sharp depreciation of Brazil’s currency, the real , drove up the cost of paying foreign debts and aircraft leasing contracts, complicating the turnaround efforts of Chief Executive Paulo Kakinoff.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and aircraft rentals, a gauge of operating profit known as EBITDAR, fell 4.8 percent from a year earlier to 468.9 million reais, below the average forecast of 500 million reais.
Including depreciation, amortization and leasing costs, an operating profit metric known as EBIT rose 6.5 percent to 153.8 million reais, or 6.1 percent of revenue.
Gol maintained its goal announced in March for a so-called EBIT margin of 2-5 percent this year, down from a 3-6 percent target at the start of 2014.
“There will be a drop in the margin in the second quarter, but the guidance is for the whole year,” Gol’s vice president for finance and investor relations, Edmar Lopes, told Reuters.
The real currency should be stronger on average than in the first three months of the year, but demand will not pick up, and business travel has fallen off more than 20 percent, he said.
“We depend very much on Brazil’s overall economic situation” which is “very challenging,” he said.
($1 = 3.0193 Brazilian reais)
Reporting by Juliana Schincariol; Editing by Ken Wills and Diane Craft