Pent-up travel demand helps Lufthansa halve losses

FRANKFURT (AFP) – German airline Lufthansa said yesterday it halved its losses in the second quarter compared to a year ago, as pent-up demand for travel fuelled uptake and travel restrictions eased over the coronavirus pandemic.

Europe’s largest airline group said its net loss between April and June came in at EUR756 million compared with EUR1.493 billion last year, when travel worldwide was halted by COVID-19.

Increased bookings saw the company record a positive cash flow in the second quarter for the first time since the start of the health crisis.

“We have been able to stop the outflow of funds in the current phase of reviving our business and generate a positive cash flow for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Chief Executive Carsten Spohr.

“In June alone, the number of bookings was more than twice as high as at the beginning of the quarter,” the company said.

German airline Lufthansa planes parked at the Franz-Josef-Strauss airport in Munich, southern Germany. PHOTO: AFP

Lufthansa said it still expected to operate at 40 per cent of its pre-crisis capacity this year, leaving its projection unchanged.

Flight capacity will increase to 50 per cent in the third quarter, on the back of continued recovery in demand in Europe, increased business travel and the opening up of further markets, such as North America, it added.

As a result, Lufthansa expects to book positive operating, or underlying, profit later this year on its path back into the black.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), a yardstick closely watched by analysts, was still severely negative in the second quarter, with the company registering a loss of about EUR400 million in the second quarter.

Lufthansa, which also includes Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines, was saved from bankruptcy last June by a German government bailout.

The company is in the throes of a painful restructuring to slash costs that will include thousands of job cuts, with 30,000 already axed since the start of the pandemic.

As part of the recovery plan, the airline will slash its current fleet of 800 aircraft to 650 by 2023.