By Ilona Wissenbach and Joanna Plucinska
(Reuters) – Germany’s Lufthansa returned to what it called a “clearly positive result” for 2022 as air travel bounced back and said it expected an significant improvement in earnings this year.
Passenger numbers and net revenue alike more than doubled last year from 2021, although they remain short of pre-pandemic levels.
“Lufthansa is back,” CEO Carsten Spohr said in a statement. “In just one year, we have achieved an unprecedented financial turnaround … Demand for air travel remains high in 2023,” he added.
The company reported a full-year operating profit of 1.51 billion euros ($1.60 billion), compared to a loss of 1.6 billion euros the previous year.
Fourth-quarter profit swung to a profit of 575 million euros from a loss of 42 million euros, in line with expectations.
Its balance sheet also improved, with net debt falling to 6.9 billion euros from 9 billion euros.
Operating profit was still 34% lower than seen in pre-pandemic 2019 with the airline noting that passenger numbers were 72% of the level achieved then. Lufthansa is also grappling with high cost inflation as well as a surge in fuel prices.
Yields are, however, expected to stay about 20% above 2019 levels as higher costs are passed on to passengers, a Lufthansa representative said on a call with media.
The company said it expects “further significant improvement” in operating profit this year.
After having had to cancel many flights last year, the company is preparing for potential travel chaos this summer season. It has called off some of its 2023 scheduled flights, given that airport and technical staff remain limited in some areas.
($1 = 0.9418 euros)