Aer Lingus warns on fuel costs


Aer Lingus today warned that the airline expects a far higher fuel bill in 2012 due to rising oil prices.

The airline's annual report, which was published this morning, shows pre-tax profits at Aer Lingus rose to €84.4 million in 2011 compared to €27.2 million a year earlier.

Operating profit totalled €49.1 million as against €52.5 million for 2010.

Revenues rose by 6 per cent to €1.28 billion, up from €1.21 billion during 2010, the company said. The number of passengers the airline carried in 2011 rose by 1.8 per cent to over 9.5 million.

Total passenger numbers (including Aer Lingus's regional operation) rose by 5.4 per cent to 10.4 million and average yield per customer increased by 4.8 per cent to €112.27 from €107.12 in the preceding year.

Aer Lingus ended 2011 with €894.8 million in cash as against €885 million in 2010.

"While the 2011 operating result was lower than that reported for 2010, it was nonetheless significantly ahead of our expectations at the start of 2011," said chief executive Christoph Mueller. "We are justifiably proud of this result in 2011 as it was achieved against very challenging conditions in our key markets."

"Our expectation for 2012 is that Aer Lingus will remain significantly profitable albeit below 2011 levels," he added.

Mr Mueller warned the airline expects a far higher fuel bill in 2012.

"We are likely to be exposed to higher non-controllable costs in 2012. In particular, fuel prices are expected to remain at their current levels for the foreseeable future," he said. "While we continue to put in place hedging protection, the 2012 fuel bill is likely to be significantly higher than in 2011 as the cost of protection adjusts to revised market expectations about the future trajectory of fuel prices."

The annual report reveals Mr Mueller was paid €1.2 million last year, a rise of just over €100,000 from the previous year. His package included a basic salary of €475,000 and a pension contribution of €119,000.