As bookings return close to pre-pandemic levels, Lufthansa Group returned to profit in the summer
Third-quarter earnings came in at €272 million against a loss of €1.2 billion in the same period last year.
The German airline company now expects demand to “develop positively”, reflecting a trend seen over the summer months with the easing of pandemic-related travel restrictions, which also saw the beginning of the recovery in business travel.
New bookings “increased significantly” and have now reached around 80% of the pre-crisis level supported by the further opening of important long-haul markets for travellers from Europe, especially the US.
The planned opening of the US for travellers from Europe from 8 November 2021 has been generating a “boom in demand” in recent weeks and “shown very clearly that the removal of travel restrictions has an immediate positive impact on customer demand”.
Since the announcement of the opening, the number of weekly bookings has increased by 51% compared to the previous weeks. As a result, new transatlantic bookings have returned to around 80% of 2019 levels, with New York, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles the most popular destinations.
Airlines within the group were able to nearly double their capacity in the three months to September compared to the previous quarter at increased load factors.
The group expects its full-year loss to be less than half of the 2020 level.
Chief executive Carsten Spohr said: “With rising demand for business travel and a record result of Lufthansa Cargo, we have mastered another milestone on our way out of the crisis. Now it is a question of continuing on the path of successful change.”
We are back to black, and we confirm our leading position among the world’s largest airline groups, says Spohr
Capacity offered in the group’s third quarter was half the pre-crisis level of 2019, but about twice as high as in the second quarter.
Overall, the airlines of the Lufthansa Group carried 19.6 million passengers in July, August and September or 46% of the pre-crisis level in the same three months in 2019 at a load factor of 68.8%.
Group sales nearly doubled year-on-year to €5.2 billion to give adjusted earnings of €272 million excluding restructuring costs of €255 million.
Measures have been implemented to eliminate costs of around €2.5 billion annually.
Staff and Cabin Crew
A total of 4,000 staff have left the company so far in 2021 in Germany alone, while agreements have been reached with 3,000 more. The group is seeking voluntary cuts in cabin crew numbers by March 2022.
“The group assumes that the attractive programme will help to reduce the staff overhang in the Lufthansa cabin in a fair and socially responsible manner,” a company spokesperson said.
Around 107,000 people were employed by the group at the end of September with a goal to secure the long-term employment of more than 100,000 people in the group.
Lufthansa Group aims to halve its net CO₂ emissions by 2030 compared to 2019 and to achieve a neutral CO₂ balance by 2050
Emissions will be continuously reduced based on scientific calculations by the means of fleet renewal and optimisation, improved operational efficiency and the use of sustainable fuel.
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is being acquired at a cost of $250 million over the next three years. The group claimed to be the largest purchaser of SAF in Europe.
Spohr added: “Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. The purchase of synthetic fuel for a quarter of a billion US dollars in the coming years is the largest pure sustainability investment in the history of the Lufthansa Group to date.
“We stand by our responsibility with full conviction and are doing everything we can to make aviation even more sustainable in the future.”