Lufthansa flying high as its profits treble


By Kamleshkumar Desai.German carrier Lufthansa says it nearly trebled its first half revenues this year thanks to high seat load factors and an effective cost cutting strategy.

Uwe Wriedt, Lufthansa's general manager passenger sales UAE and director Gulf, Iran and Pakistan, said in Bahrain the airline posted operating profits of 332 million euro ($326 million) in the first six months of this year despite a 9.3 per cent fall in the number of passengers carried system-wide.

He attributed the profit increase to consistent network-wide high seat load factor of 75.9 per cent - 83 per cent on its Gulf-Frankfurt services - as well as capacity and cost management measures plus its successful 'D-Check' programme initiated immediately after the September 11 terror attacks in the US last year.

'Lufthansa grounded 46 aircraft or 21 per cent of its fleet immediately after the tragedy and made staffing adjustments. We were therefore better placed than other carriers to recover quickly after traffic started picking up at the end of last year,' said Wriedt.

The results which make Lufthansa one of the few European carriers to report profits, also came despite disruptions caused by airport strikes in Europe which grounded nearly 180 flights.

Lufthansa carried 25 million passengers across its network of 186 destinations from January to July with four million in July alone. This was a drop of 9.3 per cent over the similar period last year, Wriedt said.

He said Lufthansa will begin flying to Sanaa, Yemen, in December. The twice-weekly flights using an A340 will be via Cairo, he said. The airline also planned to add Abujan in Nigeria to its route network later this year.

He said airline had for the time being cancelled its proposed flight from Dubai to Munich as 'demand was not developing as expected'.

Wriedt said the time was also still not right for Lufthansa to resume its services to Bahrain from where it pulled out in 1996.

However, it was considering the resumption of the service as well as starting flights to Qatar.

In the Gulf, Lufthansa operates through Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Kuwait, Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah.

Wriedt said the airline will be changing the timings of its flights from Dubai to offer better connectivity to passengers at Frankfurt as well as in Gulf destinations such as Bahrain.

It will also increase seat capacity on its Dubai flights with the introduction of 316-passenger Boeing 747 in place of the Airbus A340 it currently uses - increasing the number of available seats by 66 including eight more first class seats.