Aer Lingus posts strong full-year 2012 results

Thu, Feb 7, 2013, 00:00

Aer Lingus's share price closed up just under 1 per cent in Dublin yesterday at the €1.30 level that Ryanair has offered to pay to take over the business.

This followed the publication of a strong set of full-year 2012 results that saw its operating profit rise 40.7 per cent.

Aer Lingus posted an operating profit of €69.1 million for 2012 as opposed to €49.1 million a year earlier.

It carried a record 10.8 million passengers during the year, when its franchise agreement with Aer Arann and its Washington-Madrid code share with United Airlines are included in the figures.

However, exceptional costs of €26.5 million dragged down its pre-tax profit to €40.6 million, roughly half the level of 2011. The exceptionals included €17.2 million in restructuring expenses and a hefty €9.8 million in adviser costs to defend it against Ryanair's latest takeover bid.

Aer Lingus said revenue rose 8.2 per cent to €1.39 billion while its operating costs (before exceptionals) increased 6.9 per cent to €1.32 million.

The airline closed 2012 with gross cash of €376.9 million, up €59.3 million on the previous year.

Aer Lingus is set to pay a dividend of 4 cent a share for last year, up from 3 cent in 2011.

This will net the State €5.36 million for its 25.11 per cent shareholding while arch-rival Ryanair will receive €6.36 million for its 29.8 per cent stake.

Aer Lingus also announced a strong start to this year with passenger numbers in January up 3.6 per cent to 638,000.

It said capacity would grow in 2013 as it adds one aircraft to its north American routes, wet leases four from Virgin Atlantic for domestic UK routes out of Heathrow and flies one Airbus A330 for the next two years with an unnamed European tour operator.

The deficit in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme pension scheme, operated jointly by Aer Lingus with the Dublin Airport Authority, the Shannon Airport Authority and SR Technics, had a deficit of €779 million at the end of 2012.

'Disappointed'

Aer Lingus said it was "disappointed" no solution had been found to plug the deficit in spite of long-running talks with staff representatives.

If the scheme had been wound up at the end of 2012, current employees and deferred members would have received only about 5 per cent of their expected benefits.

"I wish that this problem had been resolved much earlier," chief executive Christoph Mueller said yesterday.

Aer Lingus said it has signed a 10-year agreement with Aer Arann for it to continue to operate its regional services on a franchise basis.

It has also taken a 33 per cent investment in a new leasing vehicle that will acquire eight new ATR aircraft.

This will involve an initial equity investment of $14.2 million, rising to a maximum $17.7 million.

The airline said this was an "attractive opportunity" that would generate a "good financial return" for the company.