ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) _ The parent company of Switzerland's national air carrier Swissair said Thursday it turned a profit in 1997 after losing money the previous year.

Swissair Group, which also owns hotels, catering operations and other businesses, said its net profit last year was 324 million Swiss francs, or $223 million. In 1996, it lost 497 million francs.

The group is seeking ways to bolster its position amid growing liberalization of European and international airline regulations.

Over the years, it has undertaken various cost-cutting measures.

It said in November last year it would seek more alliances in Asia after Singapore Airlines dropped out of a global pact.

Also Thursday, Sabena airlines, Belgium's national airline which is 49.5-percent owned by Swissair, said it narrowed its annual net loss to 2.51 billion Belgian francs, or $68 million, from 8.87 billion francs in 1996.

The rest of Sabena is owned by the Belgian government. The airline has said it plans to break even this year.