A million-dollar turnaround in first quarter operations was reported by Quality Inn International Inc., the Silver Spring-based lodging chain.

Quality earned $939,000 (35 cents a share) in the three months ended Nov. 30 in contrast with a $67,000 loss in the same period a year ago.

Quarterly revenues increased $4.4 million from $13.7 million.

President Joseph W McCarthy said the dramatic move from red to black ink was due to "a combination of reduced losses on properties in Canada and Europe and significant operating gains on U.S. operations."

In an interview, McCarthy said the occupany rate of company-owned inns was up 3 percentage points to 64.8 percent, and average room rates were increased by $3 to about $25.

He said the result was a 2 percent improvement in gross operating profit that gave Quality pretax operating earnings of $1.395 million, up from $480,000 the year before.

Quality Inns also reported a $44,000 gain from sales of property and an unexpected gain of $89,000 on currency translations. Under recently adopted accounting regulations, companies with foreign subsidiaries are required with foreign subsidiaries are required to translate the results of their foreign operations into dollars at the current exchange rate regardless of whether the funds actually are converted into dollars.

The rule resulted in a currency loss-only on paper-of $146,000 a year ago, but McCarthy said he is expecting a similar write-down this year. A rally in the value of the dollar the last two days of Quality Inns' accounting period resulted in the reported gain, McCarthy said.

Because of the currency translation regulation and continuing operating losses, the company's hotel in Antwerp, Belgium, is for sale as are two other inns and some undeveloped land.

McCarthy said the "real estate disposal program is just about completed." He said two Canadian inns which also have had profit problems are not on the market because the operations seem to be improving and "the worst of it is over."

The chain will meets its goal of increasing the number of motels it owns or franchises from the present 300 to about 500 by 1982 by acquiring small groups of hotels, McCarthy said.

The recently acquired West Coast Royal Inns franchise system will be converted to the Quality Inns to be built in Mexico in the next five years will open in February in Puerto Vallarta, he said.

Discount air fares have helped to improve Quality Inns' occupancy rates, encouraging travel by families, who make up a larger share of Quality's customers than business travelers, the main market of many lodging chaiins McCarthy added.