Austrian Airlines continued to take small steps forward in its recovery efforts, also in the weather-related traditionally difficult first quarter of the year, as demonstrated by its key financial indicators.
The crises in the Middle East, Russia and the Ukraine have a clearly negative impact on revenue. However, Austria’s national carrier succeeded in slightly improving its operating results by EUR 1 million compared to the prior-year quarter. Austrian Airlines reported a negative EBIT of minus EUR 53 million in the first quarter of 2015 (Q1 2014: minus EUR 54 million).
“In our part of the world, the first quarter is a traditionally difficult period. For this reason we focused on leveraging further cost effects in winter of 2014/15, which we succeeded in doing thanks to an improved maintenance concept”, says Austrian Airlines Chief Financial Officer Heinz Lachinger. “In the upcoming winter we are aiming to generate further revenue effects with a more seasonally adjusted flight schedule, including Mauritius, Colombo and Miami as new long-haul tourist destinations.”
In the period January to March 2015, revenue of Austrian Airlines fell 3.3 percent year-on-year to EUR 390 million. However, yields clearly improved so that total operating revenue could be increased by 1.0% to EUR 427 million in spite of the reduced passenger volume and flight offering. Total operating expenditures rose by 0.7 percent to EUR 480 million from the prior-year level of EUR 476 million, which can be attributed to higher maintenance costs, as several major technical checks have been rescheduled to winter. In the first quarter of 2015, EBIT amounted to minus EUR 53 million, an improvement of EUR 1 million or 2.0 percent compared to the first three months of 2014.
EBIT as the new earnings indicator in the Lufthansa Group
In 2015, the entire Lufthansa Group is changing over to the use of EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) and adjusted EBIT as its new earnings indicators. Adjusted EBIT comprises EBIT net of book gains or losses on disposals, extraordinary appreciation or depreciation and non-recurring pension fund transactions.
Embraer: Fleet renewal project launched
The Supervisory Board meeting of Austrian Airlines held on March 19, 2015 gave its official go-ahead to the replacement of Fokker aircraft with Embraer medium-haul aircraft which are currently being deployed by Lufthansa CityLine. The fleet renewal drive should start at the turn of the year 2015/16 and is scheduled to be concluded by the end of 2017. The project to modernize the medium-haul fleet is already underway.
With respect to the fleet, the planned stationing of two Airbus A320 of Eurowings in Vienna should also be mentioned. Current planning calls for the aircraft to be operated by Austrian Airlines crews as of the autumn of 2015 and offer direct flight connections in Europe.
In the first three months of 2015, two million passengers flew with Austrian Airlines, corresponding to a decline of 11.9 percent from the previous year. The flight offering was intentionally reduced by 6.9 percent in order to generate yield-improving effects. As a consequence, revenue passenger kilometers fell by 8.3 percent, whereas capacity utilization of the flights was down 1.2 percentage points to 73.1 percent.
Austrian Airlines operated a total of 27,507 flights using 74 aircraft in the first quarter of 2015, or the equivalent of 305.6 flights per day. The regularity of flight operations amounted to 99.2 percent and the rate of punctuality on departure was 91.1 percent. As a result, Austrian Airlines continues to be one of the most punctual airlines in the world.
Staff and fleet expansion
The total staff of the Austrian Airlines Group amounted to 6,021 employees at the balance sheet date of March 31, 2015 (December 31, 2014: 6,067 employees).
Positive outlook for 2015
Austrian Airlines expects additional earnings-improving effects from its successful ongoing restructuring program.
“Following very tough years with an emphasis on restructuring the company, we want to focus more strongly on our customers and the further development of our business”, states Austrian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Jaan Albrecht. In spite of a continuing difficult competitive situation, Austrian Airlines anticipates an improvement in its EBIT for the entire year 2015. In 2014, Austrian Airlines generated an adjusted EBIT of EUR 9 million (reported operating profit of EUR 10 million).