The third quarter was the most profitable ever for Brussels Airlines. Adjusted operating profit (EBIT) rose by 21 million euros compared to the same period last year, to 72 million euros. The airline also expects record profits for the whole year. Lufthansa, the German parent company of Brussels Airlines, also recorded a record summer, with a third-quarter profit of 1,5 billion euros.
Call it the post-coronavirus effect: even though ticket prices have risen significantly (+2%) and aviation still faces a hefty impact on the climate crisis, people are traveling more by plane again. Indeed, both Brussels Airlines and Lufthansa recorded their most profitable summer ever, although total capacity was 15% below pre-corona levels last quarter.
2,4 million passengers
Between July and September, Brussels Airlines carried 2,4 million passengers on more than 17 000 flights, with an average seat occupancy of 85,2%, while 91 destinations were served in 40 countries.
Some challenges occurred as long-haul flights to Africa were doing exceptionally well. Still, the closure of airspace over Niger by the military junta cost the airline an estimated 4 million euros. Brussels Airlines was able to post a third-quarter adjusted EBIT of 72 million euros. This is up 41% on last year’s result, a record summer.
The airline also expects the whole of 2023 to be a record year financially, even though the fourth quarter is, in general, the weaker one, and is targeting a break-even result in the fourth quarter after three years during which the company lost nearly 600 million euros.
“Strong profitability will allow the Belgian airline to close the gap further,” it said. “In that context, there will be five brand-new A320neo aircraft (the first of which was delivered on Wednesday) and a tenth long-haul aircraft.”
To achieve growth, Brussels Airlines is also looking for staff in all departments. There are currently 240 vacancies, and next year, the airline aims to recruit at least another 360 employees.
Lufthansa is also on a pink cloud
German parent company Lufthansa can also announce whooping figures: it posted a record summer with a profit of 1,5 billion euros in the third quarter. Sales rose 8% to 10,3 billion euros, the highest ever in a third quarter. Operating profit (adjusted EBIT) rose to 1,5 billion euros, the second-best result ever and up 31% on the same quarter last year.
“The increase is mainly due to strong demand, higher capacity, and continued high-interest rates. Demand for leisure travel also remained strong in the third quarter, especially in the premium segment,” Lufthansa said. Moreover, the average revenue per ticket was higher than ever before.
Flight capacity was still lower this year than before the coronavirus crisis, though. In the third quarter, capacity was 88% of the 2019 level. For this year, Lufthansa hopes for 85% capacity, and the target for 2024 is 95%.
CEO Carsten Spohr also expects the airline to be on track to achieve an operating profit of 2,6 billion euros this year as planned. That would be the third-best result ever for Lufthansa, after 2017 and 2018. Back then, the airline was able to benefit from the bankruptcy of Air Berlin.
5 million more passengers
The various airlines under Lufthansa, such as Austrian Airlines, Swiss Air, and Eurowings, each separately also posted solid profits. Together, they posted operating earnings of 1,4 billion euros, up 91% on the same period last year.
In total, the airlines of the Lufthansa Group, the leading European air transport group, welcomed more than 38 million passengers on board between July and September, compared with 33 million in the same period last year.
Anyway, despite those record figures, which were also recorded at other major European airline groups, such as IAG and Air France-KLM, airlines are currently worried about high inflation, rising interest rates, and tensions in the world, especially in the Middle East. Lufthansa, for instance, is temporarily not flying to Israel and Lebanon because of the recently flared violence in the Middle East.
The launch of City Airlines will also mark the coming year. This subsidiary should allow Lufthansa to strengthen its short-haul competitiveness in Europe, particularly the connections to its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, from where long-haul flights depart.