Lufthansa says ‘left pandemic behind’, books healthy profit

German airline giant Lufthansa said Thursday it had “left the pandemic behind” as it reported a robust third-quarter net profit, and predicted strong demand in the months ahead.

Lufthansa had made huge losses when the coronavirus brought global air travel to a halt, and had to be bailed out by the German government in 2020.

But a strong rebound in demand as economies reopen has lifted the company’s fortunes faster than expected.

From July to September, the group made a net profit of 809 million euros ($814 million), compared to a loss of 72 million euros in the same period a year earlier.

Chief executive Carsten Spohr said the group had “left the pandemic behind and is looking optimistically into the future”.

“The desire to travel, and thus the demand for air travel, continues unabated.”

All business segments, from passenger airlines to logistics, contributed to the result, he said.

The results extend the group’s recovery, after it reported its first net profit in August since the pandemic.

Third-quarter revenues almost doubled year-on-year to 10.1 billion euros.

More than 33 million passengers flew with the airlines of the group in the quarter, up from 20 million in the same period a year earlier.

The group’s passenger airlines returned to profitability, with an adjusted operating profit of 709 million euros, compared with a loss a year earlier.

– More strong demand –
Lufthansa said it believes air travel demand will remain strong in the months ahead, and it expects to make an operating profit in the fourth quarter despite the usual seasonal slowdown.

The group — which includes Eurowings, Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines — had already announced earlier this month it was significantly raising its earnings forecast for 2022 due to strong demand.

It confirmed that it expected adjusted operating profits of more than one billion euros for the year.

The positive results came despite strike action by pilots and ground staff over the summer, which cost the group around 70 million euros during the July-to-September period.

Lufthansa made huge net losses of 6.7 billion euros in 2020 and 2.2 billion euros in 2021 due to the pandemic, but its finances have stabilised earlier than expected.

The German government sold its remaining stake in Lufthansa last month, putting the airline back in private hands.

Agence France-Presse