Germany’s second-largest airline Air Berlin returned to profitability last year for the first time since 2007 following the first stage of cost cuts.

The ‘Shape and Size’ efficiency programme led to savings of €250 million but the carrier warned that there would be jobs lost as part of a second turnaround plan. Some €80 million was wiped off the savings due to higher fuel prices.

Passenger carryings dropped by 5.5% to 33.3 million as the fleet was reduced by 15 aircraft to 155. Revenue per passenger was up by 7.7% to €120.05 as the carrier moved into the black with an operating profit of €70.2 million – a €317 million improvement over 2011.

A net profit of €6.8 million was achieved on revenue of €4.31 billion.

The airline’s strategic partnership with Etihad Airways delivered €50 million in additional revenues, with synergies and cost savings starting to take effect. Etihad delivered 219,000 passengers into Air Berlin’s network.

Chief executive Wolfgang Prock-Schauer said: “We were able to conclude the past year with an operating profit. Moreover, we are also pleased to have returned a net profit.

“We managed to accomplish this despite increased competition and the continued extremely challenging environment. Nevertheless, we have not yet reached our target and are mindful that non-recurring events also contributed to the result of the 2012 financial year.

“We are confident that our recently launched turnaround programme, ‘Turbine’, will enable Air Berlin to be competitive in the future and achieve sustainable profitability.

“One of the programme’s key elements is a focus on cost efficiency which involves implementing a range of initiatives, including a staff reduction.”

He added: “Our results are just now reflecting the first 12 months of a long-term partnership which will deliver substantial commercial and operational benefits.

“In 2013, we are confident that we’ll achieve further revenue enhancements and, above all, further cost synergies with our partner, Etihad Airways.”