Austrian Airlines reports 60-million-euro loss for first quarter

Vienna – Austrian Airlines (AUA) said Thursday that it had a net loss of 60.4 million euros (95.7 million dollars) in the first quqrter of 2008 amid strong competition and high kerosene prices.

Austria’s flag carrier had seen net losses of 16.3 million euros in the first quarter last year.

Operating profits were equally affected by the competitive environment, AUA said, reporting a negative EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) of 50.1 million euros, or four times the 12.5 million euros red ink in the previous-year period.

The adjusted EBIT was minus 42.2 million euros, compared with minus 20.6 million euors in 2007. Revenues slipped 6.4 per cent to 525.3 million euros. Passenger numbers were up 2 per cent to 2.29 million euros.

In 2007 AUA reported positive results, but owing to high petrol prices it would be ‘difficult’ to repeat last year’s perfomance, company CEO Alfred Oetsch said, saying he expected a reduced clean EBIT for 2008.

Plans for becoming profitable enough to pay dividends by 2009 were a ‘great challenge due to the current circumstances,’ Oetsch said.

Austrian Airlines would continue to expand in its core markets, Central Eastern Europe and the Middle East, by adding new destinations like Russia’s Olympic winter games 2012 host Sotchi or Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

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