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Aer Lingus losses grow, but outlook is brighter

The flag-carrier’s losses for the first half of 2011 are 46 per cent worse than last year, but there’s better news to come.

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller remains upbeat about the airline's prospects for 2011.
Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller remains upbeat about the airline's prospects for 2011.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

AER LINGUS HAS reported an operating loss of €27.8 million for the first half of 2011 – an increase of 46 per cent on the losses run up in the same period last year – but has insisted that its outlook remains positive.

The airline turned an operating profit of almost €26m for months of April to June, up significantly on the profit from the same quarter of last year, but its overall operations for the first half of the year were hit by cabin crew industrial action.

That action, which saw hundreds of staff taken off the payroll, cost the airline around €15m, according to chief executive Christoph Mueller – who said the airline had performed better than expected since then.

“Aer Lingus will make a profit this year; we are far more optimistic now than we were at the end of quarter one, and business and trading is very good,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, declining to offer any estimates.

The airline saw its passenger numbers drop slightly in the first half, from 4.4 million to 4.36 million, though this loss can also be attributed to the industrial action earlier this year.

The average yield per passenger was up by 8.4 per cent, while revenue was up by 5.8 per cent. Operating costs rose sharply, however, rising by 7.2 per cent to just under €597m for the first half of the year.

Mueller said that the airline had successfully managed the cost of aviation fuel, with fuel costs down slightly on last year despite the rising price of oil on the world’s markets.

The CEO also ruled out the prospect of Aer Lingus resuming flights to Dubai, saying Ireland’s native market was not large enough to sustain direct routes to Asia or the Middle East.

Flights to the West Coast of the United States also remain off the agenda, though Mueller said resuming flights to California would be the airline’s first priority when the “very poor macroeconomical condition” in California was reversed.

Read the Aer Lingus figures in full (PDF) >

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Gavan Reilly

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