Half-year €12m profit no cause for complacency
Aer Lingus yesterday revealed a healthier-than-expected €12m operating profit for the second half of 2009.
However, poor economic conditions pushed the airline into an €81m operating loss for the entire year as overall revenue declined 11pc to just over €1.2bn.
The figures were released in a short trading update one day after the company said it would have to delay its complete full-year results after most of its cabin crew rejected a €97m cost-saving programme the airline is trying to implement.
At a hastily convened press conference yesterday, Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller said he intended to pursue the so-called 'Project Greenfield' transformation plan regardless of the decision by IMPACT union members to reject it.
Aer Lingus has appointed a former executive of German travel group TUI, where Mr Mueller previously worked, as the programme manager for its transformation programme. Juergen Krins will be focusing on the "successful delivery of the large and complex transformation programme", staff were told this week.
The trading update revealed a near 32pc slump in cargo revenue, which fell to €34.3m last year, while fare revenue declined 13.6pc to €992.7m.
The average fare at Aer Lingus declined 16.8pc last year, with the average short-haul fare falling 12pc to €77.10 and the average long-haul fare dropping almost 16pc to €255.70.
But the total number of passengers carried by Aer Lingus rose 3.8pc last year to almost 10.4 million.
Its net cash position at year-end was €336m -- nearly half the amount it had at the beginning of 2009. Its fuel bill fell from €401.3m to €331.7m last year.
Despite overall passenger numbers rising just 3.8pc, ancillary revenue -- such as revenue from selling tea and coffee on board -- jumped 16.2pc to €173.9m in the year.
Average ancillary revenue per passenger rose nearly 12pc to €16.95.
Mr Mueller declined to say when the airline's preliminary results would be released, but stressed that the company's annual report would be published on time.