Aer Lingus passenger numbers increase as revenue edges higher
Aer Lingus said operating profit rose for the year to date as passenger numbers increased and revenue edged higher.
However, the company was hit by weaker demand for its UK routes as London flights suffered from the Olympic effect and austerity measures changed consumers’ spending habits.
Operating profit for the year to date was €86.5 million, almost 30 per cent ahead of the same period last year.
However, in the three months to the end of September the company reported €90.9 million in operating profit before exceptional items were taken into account, slightly lower than in the same quarter in 2011.
Although the UK routes were weaker, the airline’s continental Europe business has improved.
“We are very happy with Europe – continental Europe, Germany, Benelux are performing very well on the business side,” chief executive Christoph Mueller said.
“We had an increased demand for tourism out of Ireland in the last couple of months to the typical Spanish and Portuguese destinations.”
The long-haul business was “booming”, Mr Mueller said, with strong demand from the US to Ireland and Europe, and the favourable exchange rate also contributing to a 16 per cent rise in revenue on the routes.
Overall passenger numbers were 2 per cent higher in the quarter when Aer Lingus regional routes were taken into account, while overall yield per passenger was up 7.2 per cent.
Revenue rose by 5.5 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2011.
However, retail revenue, which includes passenger spending on baggage fees and other items, was lower.
The airline said it had plans to help grow this sector, including offering customers the fee-paying services such as prebooking seats and pre-ordered meals on flights.
“It’s a very quick-changing environment” Mr Mueller said. “We’re very optimistic that we can grow that business next year with new product offerings.”
Prebookings at the end of the third quarter were stronger than in the same period last year.
The airline is facing industrial action over issues around a pension scheme operated jointly with the Dublin Airport Authority. Mr Mueller said he was optimistic, and the company had signalled its desire to return to the negotiating table.
Aer Lingus is also trying to stave off a takeover bid by shareholder Ryanair.
The airline has called on shareholders to reject the bid, saying it undervalued Aer Lingus’s business.
European competition regulators are examining the bid.