Operating profits at Aer Lingus rise 35%


OPERATING PROFITS at Aer Lingus increased by 35 per cent to €79.2 million in the three months to September 30th.

However, the airline’s chief executive expressed caution about the performance of the aviation sector next year.

Aer Lingus said yield per passenger increased 12.5 per cent in the quarter, and is up 10.2 per cent so far this year.

Revenue increased by 5.5 per cent to €411 million, with short-haul passenger fare revenues up 4.9 per cent to €249.3 million in the quarter.

Long-haul revenues in the third-quarter were €97.9 million, up 7.7 per cent on 2009.

Aer Lingus said staff costs declined by 19.6 per cent in the quarter to €61.9 million as a result of its €97 million cost-saving Greenfield initiative and the flow-through of savings from earlier cost-reduction programmes.

Despite the savings, overall operating costs increased by 0.3 per cent to €332.5 million. The airline said this reflected higher airport charges, project and other costs, but also includes higher depreciation charges than in 2009 on property and aircraft cabin fit-out.

Aer Lingus had gross cash of €951.9 million at the end of September.

The company has recorded an operating profit of €60.2 million so far this year, compared to a loss of €34.4 million in 2009.

Aer Lingus chief executive Christophe Mueller said the airline’s performance in the third-quarter was very significant and supported its strategy.

“However, we remain cautious on the outlook for 2011 given concerns about the durability of the recent aviation sector performance as well as continuing economic uncertainty in our primary markets.”

Shares in Aer Lingus failed to take comfort from the update, closing 6 cent lighter at €1.11.