Analysis for Europe/MEA
IAG vows it will take legacy out of Iberia as losses deepen
International Airlines Group (IAG) is drafting a comprehensive restructuring plan for Iberia that will include short-term downsizing, network reshaping to deliver higher unit revenues and a re-evaluation of all aspects of the business. Job cuts will be an inevitable consequence of the overhaul. Efforts to address the Spanish carrier’s uncompetitive cost structure are not new and date from before the merger with British Airways (BA) in Jan-2011, but results have been insufficient and losses are spiraling out of control as the economic crisis in Spain worsens and the onslaught of LCCs persists.
While Iberia’s pilots continue to fight change other legacy carriers are restructuring and this is threatening Iberia’s leadership position in the Europe-Latin American market. The doubling of the departure taxes at Iberia’s main Madrid and Barcelona bases since 01-Jul-2012 is putting salt on the wound and diminishing the airline’s appeal.
Lufthansa Group presses forward with cost cuts as 2Q profits fall 24%
Europe’s largest airline group has decided to further revise full-year capacity growth downwards to 0.5% and rigorously pursue its SCORE restructuring programme to protect yield and combat the dire operating environment marked by economic uncertainties in Europe, a night-flight ban at its main hub in Frankfurt, increased air traffic taxes and above all high fuel prices. Lufthansa Group’s decision follows an unsatisfactory performance in 1H2012 in its passenger airline business segment, which recorded an operating loss of EUR179 million, widening the EUR100 million operating loss recorded in the year-ago period despite a 7.2% increase in revenue to EUR11.2 billion.
The Group’s airlines recorded diverging results and highlights the need to cut costs at its largest unit Lufthansa while simultaneously increasing synergies between the different airlines. Lufthansa German Airlines amassed a 1H2012 operating loss of EUR300 million (nearly double the EUR146 million operating deficit reported 1H2011) while SWISS and Austrian Airlines earned EUR48 million and EUR26 million, respectively. Austrian’s operating performance reflects the ruthless restructuring implemented by CEO Jaan Albrecht and the noteworthy turnaround is in contrast to the declining performance of Lufthansa Group’s long-standing star SWISS.
Ryanair's profits fall as it ponders stakes in Aer Lingus and London Stansted
Dublin-based Ryanair recorded a near 30% fall in earnings for the three months ending 30-Jun-2012 in spite of a 6% rise in passenger numbers and a 4% increase in average fares. Net profit for its fiscal first quarter came in at EUR99 million compared to EUR139 million in the year-ago period as revenues rose 11%. But the airline's total operating expenses grew at a higher rate of 17% primarily due to sharply higher fuel costs.
Ryanair’s decrease in net profit was in line with its own guidance, but below consensus forecasts of EUR114 million. Despite the fall in earnings during its fiscal first quarter the carrier is maintaining its full-year outlook and expects to earn between EUR400 million and EUR440 million for its fiscal year ending 31-Mar-2013 as continuing austerity measures, recession in Europe and lower yields at new bases will restrain fare growth. It anticipates growing passenger numbers by 5% to 79 million. Europe’s largest LCC in terms of passengers posted a net profit of EUR503 million in FY2012 and EUR403 million in FY2011.
Air France-KLM sinks deeper into the red as it further revises capex and capacity
In spite of growing its passenger revenues nearly 7%, Air France-KLM Group saw its 2Q2012 net loss widen year-over-year as a result of provisions for restructuring and a drop in the value of fuel hedging contracts. The Franco-Dutch group recorded a deficit of EUR895 million for the three months ending 30-Jun-2012, more than quadruple of the EUR197 million net loss accrued in the year-ago period.
Air France-KLM took a special charge of EUR368 million related to its Transform 2015 restructuring programme, principally to fund a voluntary redundancy plan announced at Air France in Jun-2012. It also took a EUR372 million accounting charge related to the hedging of fuel prices. Excluding these non-cash items the Group’s net loss for 2Q2012 would be “by no means abnormal”, Air France-KLM Group CFO Philippe Calavia noted during a discussion of the company's results.
easyJet counters Europe’s pessimistic mood and raises full-year profit expectations
easyJet beat the continuous run of disappointing economic data in Europe and has lifted its full-year pre-tax profit guidance after recording a strong performance for the three months ending 30-Jun-2012. Europe’s second largest LCC in terms of passenger numbers now expects to report a profit before tax of between GBP280 million and GBP300 million for its fiscal year ending 30-Sep-2012, above analyst estimates and above the company’s reported pre-tax profit of GBP248 million in FY2011 and GBP154 million in FY2010.
easyJet’s revenues in 3QFY2012 (three months ending 30-Jun-2012) rose 11% year-over-year to GBP1 billion as passenger numbers increased 11% to 16 million and total revenue per seat grew 2.8%. The airline increased the number of seats flown year-on-year by 7.5% to 17.9 million and load factor improved 2.8ppt to 89%. The solid operating performance was coupled with a 3% reduction of cost per seat excluding fuel and follows an enhanced operating and financial performance in its typically weak 1HFY2012.
Etihad targets second year of profitability with 30% increase in revenue and declining cost base
Etihad Airways in 1H2012 reported another period of remarkable growth as revenue for the six months to 30-Jun-2012 rose 30% compared to 1H2011 to USD2.24 billion as the carrier increased capacity, added new destinations and improved its load factors. It did not disclose bottom-line profitability.
Six new aircraft were delivered in the six month period, including the carrier’s first three class Boeing 777-300ER. Etihad added services to Basra, Sahnghai Pudong and Nairobi in 1H2012. Lagos service was also launched on 01-Jul-2012.
With the new aircraft and expanded network, passenger numbers for the half year rose 30% to 4.89 million, while revenue passenger kilometres also rose 30%, reaching 22.73 billion. Capacity was up only 23%, to 29.5 billion available seat kilometres. With demand growth well ahead of capacity, passenger load factors rose 4.2ppt to 77.1%.
In Europe, Scandinavian airports are rising to the economic challenge
Major European airports – some privatised, others in the public sector – have released financial results for 1Q2012 and in two cases for FY2011. Unlike the last time an across-the-board results survey was undertaken, in 2011, there is a greater degree of uncertainty in some countries in this first quarter that is reflected in these reports but there still remain more positive than negative results, especially in Scandinavia.
Ryanair defeats European recession and posts all-time annual high net profit, but outlook less rosy
In spite of high oil prices and a Europe-wide economic recession Ryanair further distanced itself from its full service peers and reported a remarkable 25% increase in net profit for FY2011/12 to a record EUR503 million. Operating profit lifted 40% year-on-year to EUR683.2 million. Much to the annoyance and envy of Lufthansa and certainly Air France-KLM Group, which both recorded a deterioration of their financial performance in the most recent financial year, Ryanair improved its net margin by 1ppt to 12% and was able to maintain its operating margin at 14%. This is well above the EBIT margin performance of Europe’s full service carriers. Air France-KLM’s operating margin was negative in FY2011 while Lufthansa Group’s adjusted operating margin came in a 3% and IAG’s operating margin also reached a meagre 3%.
Fuel, foreign exchange and global events hit Emirates' profits, but momentum not slowed
A combination of high oil prices, regional political instability, volatile exchange rates and Emirates’ exposure to the global economic situation has brought the carrier back towards its international peers. Emirates reported a net profit of AED1.5 billion (USD409 million) in FY2011-2012, a dramatic 72.1% drop on the previous year’s result.
Even with the stiff headwinds pushing against it during the year, the carrier continued undaunted with its growth strategy. In FY2011-2012, Emirates took delivery of 22 new widebody aircraft and added 11 new destinations – a record number of new routes for the airline in a single financial year. It flew 34 million passengers at an 80% passenger load factor and increased its overall passenger traffic (revenue passenger kilometres) by just under 10%. Emirates now connects 122 destinations on six continents from its hub in Dubai.
Overall, revenue at the airline reached AED61.5 billion (USD16.7 billion), an increase of 16.5% from the previous year. Passenger revenue climbed 18.2% year-on-year, to AED49 billion (USD13 billion) due to the overall expansion of passenger numbers and flying, as well as higher fares.
Spiralling fuel costs trigger higher 1Q2012 loss at Air France-KLM
Incessantly high fuel costs and an unwelcome increase in employee expenditure, highlighting the urging need to restructure workforce productivity and pay, pushed Air France-KLM Group into a deeper loss for 1Q2012 despite a surprising rise in passenger unit revenue and buoyant passenger traffic. Operating loss for the first three months widened almost 50% from EUR403 million to EUR597 million in the year-ago period. Air France-KLM’s net loss remained flat at EUR368 million but benefitted from a one-off gain of EUR98 million relating to the sale of a stake in Amadeus.
Air France-KLM is not Europe’s only airline group to report worsening 1Q2012 results. Lufthansa Group, Europe’s largest airline group, has posted a EUR381 million operating loss for the first three months of 2012, compared to a EUR169 million operating loss posted in 1Q2011 and announced it will cut 3500 full-time jobs in administrative departments worldwide over the coming years as part of its SCORE programme. SAS Group also has reported a 1Q2012 net loss of SEK729 million (EUR82 million), doubling its 1Q2011 net deficit of SEK373 million (EUR42 million).