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Jordanian Airlines' first-half losses spiral amid competition from low cost carriers

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AMMAN, July 30 (Reuters) - Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) said its losses widened by 69 percent in the first half, blaming higher oil prices and a sharp drop in air fares as it faced competition from low-cost carriers in the Gulf region.

The state airline is the middle of a restructuring that has seen it stop flights on uneconomic routes, cut expenses and phase out ageing planes. Regional turmoil has also led to the closure of some former lucrative routes such as to Damascus.

President and CEO Stefan Pichler said more work needed to be done as the carrier announced a net loss of 26.3 million dinars ($37 million), widening from 15.5 million dinars in the first half of last year.

Revenues in the first six months of this year fell to 284 million dinars compared to 287 million dinars the same period last year despite a six percent rise in the number of passengers.

"We have a lot of homework to do to transform RJ into a sustainable profitable company for our shareholders," Pichler said in a statement. "While we are working on our strategic turnaround plan, we now focus on early wins in the commercial area, like load factor and yield improvement." ($1 = 0.709 dinars) (Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Susan Fenton)