Aer Lingus vows to return to profit
Aer Lingus vowed to return to a profit-making airline despite recording an operating loss of €81m.
Annual results for 2009 showed that, while passenger numbers rose by 3.8pc, total revenue declined by 11pc to €1.2bn.
The carrier said plans to lay off 670 staff as part of a radical restructuring overhaul would secure its future.
Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller said that, while 2009 was a difficult year, implementation of its cost reduction programme remained vital to re-align its cost base.
"The outlook for 2010 remains uncertain, with limited visibility over the second half of 2010 in particular," he said.
"However, we are satisfied that we have started the process of improving yields while implementing the necessary cost reduction programme.
"Our goal for the remainder of 2010 is to position Aer Lingus for a successful future."
Despite huge losses in 2009, Aer Lingus said it made a profit of €12m in the second half of the year with results for the first three months of this year also better than before.
The airline also revealed long-haul revenue per passenger in the first three months was above last year, with short haul revenue broadly in line with 2009.
Elsewhere, it revealed it had reduced capacity at Gatwick airport from five to three aircraft and commenced the implementation of a controversial €97m cost-saving plan with unions.
Mr Mueller said the carrier expects to save €40m during the remainder of this year.
"We recognise that elements of the cost reduction programme will involve significant sacrifices by our staff and we gratefully acknowledge the support of the five trade union groups that voted to support the cost reduction programme," he said.
"We are pleased that we successfully achieved agreement on the crucial measures required to return the group to profitability without experiencing any disruption to our passengers."
Three weeks ago, as the carrier published its trading statement for 2009, it announced 440 voluntary job cuts among pilots, maintenance, craft and administration staff who had accepted a cost-saving proposal.
But 1,200 cabin crew - who had rejected its proposals - were all threatened with redundancy.
It warned 970 would be re-hired on inferior terms and conditions, with 230 compulsory redundancies made in Dublin, Cork and Shannon.
The cost-cutting programme was later accepted in a second ballot by cabin crew by 92pc to 8pc.
Mr Mueller said he envisaged no further delays in rolling out the plan, which he revealed had already resulted in a 10pc saving in March's pay bill.
Elsewhere he refused to speculate when the carrier might return to profit as it relied heavily on the Irish market and GDP.
"As soon as the Irish economy will recover we see us returning to profitability," he added.