Lufthansa returns to profit as travel curbs ease

BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany’s Lufthansa posted on Wednesday a return to operating profit in the third quarter for the first time since the coronavirus crisis, supported by the easing of travel restrictions and strong demand during the summer season.

The group reported adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of 17 million euros ($19.69 million) in the quarter, versus a loss of 1.262 billion euros in the year-ago period.

Analysts in a company-provided poll had expected an adjusted EBIT loss of 33 million euros.

The company’s third-quarter revenue almost doubled to 5.2 billion euros, compared with analysts’ forecast for 5.5 billion euros.

“We have mastered another milestone on our way out of the crisis: We are back to black,” Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said in a statement.

Lufthansa, which also owns Eurowings, Swiss, Brussels and Austrian Airlines, said it expects demand to develop positively, resulting in positive earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in the fourth quarter.

It said third-quarter capacity, measured in available seat-kilometers, was 50% of the pre-crisis level. It expects 2022 capacity to rise to more than 70% of the 2019 level.

New bookings are currently at 80% of 2019 level, the airline said, prompted by recovering business bookings and rising demand for long-haul flights, especially to the United States, which will open for travellers from Europe next week.

Lufthansa’s air cargo business reported a record adjusted EBIT of 301 million euros in the quarter, as demand and air freight rates rose due to ocean freight bottlenecks and global supply chains disruptions.

Shares in Lufthansa were indicated to rise 3.4% in pre-market trade.

($1 = 0.8634 euros)

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa, Editing by Emma Thomasson and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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