Lufthansa exceeded analysts’ expectations and achieved quarterly profit for the first time since the pandemic, becoming the second major European airline to benefit from the travel recovery following the reopening of international borders.
The German airline is shrinking its business and laying off more than 30,000 employees. In the three months to the end of September, its EBIT was 17 million euros. In the last quarter, Lufthansa lost more than 950 million euros.
Last week, Air France-KLM stated that due to strong customer demand, its operating income for the quarter was 132 million euros.
The Frankfurt-based airline said that although the most recent quarter carried 19.6 million passengers, which is 46% of the pre-crisis level in 2019, new bookings have soared to 80% of the pre-pandemic level.
“We are back to black,” said CEO Carsten Spohr. “The problem now is to continue on the path to successful change.”
The airline said it plans to open the U.S. border to travelers from Europe on November 8, “demand has surged in recent weeks.” “Since the announcement of the opening, weekly bookings have increased by 51% compared to previous weeks.”
However, it reiterated that, overall, it still expects to be able to operate only 70% of its pre-pandemic capacity by 2022.
Last month, Lufthansa completed a capital increase of more than 2.1 billion euros and intends to use the funds to fully repay the rescue funds it received from Berlin in the summer of 2020.
The rescue plan means that the government holds a 16% stake in the company, and Lufthansa’s management hopes to reduce the stake.
The company’s cost base is higher than many competitors, and significant progress has been made in restructuring.
Lufthansa employed nearly 138,000 employees at the beginning of the pandemic, but stated that its total number of employees has now fallen to 107,000 because the response to the voluntary layoffs program “has greatly exceeded initial expectations.” However, it is still negotiating with German pilots.
In addition to the surge in transatlantic travel, the boom in air cargo helped Lufthansa’s cargo business to achieve a record EBIT of 301 million euros in the quarter.
The sector continues to benefit from high demand, partly because of the limited cargo capacity in the belly of the airliner. According to data from the airport association ADV, the number of goods transported through German airports is increasing at a double-digit rate every month.