FRANKFURT – Deutsche Lufthansa posted a surprise profit in the third quarter as cargo demand boomed and said passenger bookings are also surging, buoyed by the imminent reopening of flights to the United States.
The German group reported adjusted earnings before interest and tax of 17 million euros (S$26.6 million) for the three months through September, its first profit since the start of the Covid pandemic. Analysts had predicted a loss of 169 million euros, based on a Bloomberg survey.
Lufthansa expects earnings to remain in positive territory this quarter while reiterating that it sees a full-year loss below last year’s level.
While the summer profit was based largely on record results at the cargo arm, with the network airlines that normally drive the business reporting a loss, passenger demand is beginning to take off amid a widespread easing of coronavirus curbs. Bookings are back to four-fifths of pre-crisis levels, Lufthansa said, with strong sales in premium classes. The group plans to offer more than 70 per cent of its usual capacity in 2022.
“With rising demand for business travel and a record result at Lufthansa Cargo we have mastered another milestone on our way out of the crisis,” Chief executive officer Carsten Spohr said in the release. Lufthansa completed a 2 billion-euro capital raise last month to help repay a government bailout.
Rival Air France-KLM posted a return to profit last week and predicted that its 12-month result will be slightly positive. IAG, Europe’s third major airline group and the owner of British Airways, is due to report third-quarter figures on Friday.