Lufthansa reports first underlying operating profit since Covid-19 pandemic

Industry

Germany’s Lufthansa expects high demand for its booming cargo business and the recovery of passenger flights to continue next year, it said on Wednesday, after reporting its first underlying operating profit since the coronavirus crisis.

The group reported adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of 17 million euros ($20 million) in the third quarter, versus a loss of 1.262 billion euros a year earlier, supported by strong freight business and rising demand during the summer season with the easing of travel restrictions.

“We have mastered another milestone on our way out of the crisis: We are back to black,” Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said.

Lufthansa’s air cargo business reported a record adjusted EBIT of 301 million euros, as demand and air freight rates rose due to ocean freight bottlenecks and global supply chains disruptions.

“The favourable supply-demand gap will last at least until 2022, but with a high degree of probability beyond that,” Spohr said.

Q3 revenue

The company’s third-quarter revenue almost doubled to 5.2 billion euros, compared with analysts’ forecast for 5.5 billion.

Lufthansa, which also owns Eurowings, Swiss, Brussels and Austrian Airlines, said it expected demand to develop positively, resulting in positive earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in the fourth quarter.

It said third-quarter capacity, measured in available seat-kilometres, was 50 per cent of the pre-crisis level. It expects 2022 capacity to rise to more than 70 per cent of the 2019 level.

“The positive development will continue up to 80 per cent in the second half of the year,” Spohr added.

New bookings are currently at 80 per ent of 2019 levels, the airline said, prompted by recovering business bookings and rising demand for long-haul flights, especially to the US, Lufthansa’s most important and profitable market.

With the US opening for travellers from Europe next week, Spohr said transatlantic bookings were already around 80 per cent of pre-crisis levels, adding he expected mainland China to open up in the middle of 2022 rather than early next year.

The group, which last year received a 9 billion euro lifeline in public funding to stay afloat, said it expected capital expenditure of around 2 billion euros next year and that it was aiming for 2.5 billion a year in the long term.

 

Source: Civil Aviation Authority – Qatar