Lufthansa profits fall as two-day cabin crew strike forces flight cancellations

Lufthansa reported a sharp fall in profits for the three months to September, blaming “pricing pressures in Europe”.

The German airline group issued its results as Lufthansa cabin crew began a two-day strike on Thursday and Friday, forcing cancellation of 1,300 flights over 48 hours.

Further cancellations were expected on Saturday despite a new round of talks between the airline and the UFO union representing crew.

Lufthansa recorded a net profit of just over €1 billion for the first nine months of this year, 43% down on the same period in 2018.

The group’s nine-month operating profit fell 33% to almost €2.46 billion despite a 3% rise in revenue to €26.9 billion.

However, Lufthansa reported an adjusted operating profit for the nine months down slightly less at €1.6 billion, 30% below last year.

Its adjusted operating profit for July to September was €1.3 billion – 8% down on 2018. The group reported a 2% rise in third-quarter revenue to €10.2 billion.

The group, which includes Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and German subsidiary Eurowings, described the operating environment as “challenging”, with “higher fuel costs” and “continued pricing pressures in Europe intensified by a slowdown in the global economy”.

Higher oil prices added €620 million to the group’s fuel bill for the nine months to September.

Ulrik Svensson, group chief financial officer, announced measures “to improve the performance of our only modestly profitable and loss-making companies”.

He said Austrian Airlines would re-focus solely on Vienna, with other bases closed, and Brussels Airlines network would be “realigned”.

Eurowings’ capacity will be cut this winter and Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian grow “only moderately”.

The Lufthansa cabin crew union threatened further strikes if this weekend’s talks on pay and conditions “don’t work out”. A spokesman warned: “We will announce on Monday that there will be more strikes.”


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