- Passenger numbers: 8.3 million, +17% year-on-year;
- By route:
- Etihad Crystal Cargo: 310,188 tonnes, +18%. [more –original PR]
Etihad Airways passenger numbers up 17% in 2011 to 8.3 million
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Airberlin makes network cuts, refocusses on North America long haul and new premium product
Despite low fuel prices that have carried the global airline industry to record margins, airberlin's 2Q2016 losses have widened. This was its fifth successive quarter of unit cost growth outpacing unit revenue growth (they both fell, but unit revenue fell faster). Airberlin improved its cost structure, but CEO Stefan Pichler said that 2Q "was more challenging than expected on volumes and yield". It now seems likely that 2016 will be yet another year of red ink for airberlin, which is 30% owned by Etihad.
Airberlin's ongoing restructuring continues to involve capacity and headcount cuts to improve cost efficiency. In addition, airberlin is seeking cost synergies by coordinating some support functions with Etihad Airways Partners airlines.
Still predominantly a short/medium haul operator, airberlin is expanding its long haul network with new routes in the US and the Caribbean. This long haul expansion, accompanied by the launch of a short/medium haul premium product, attempts to position airberlin more squarely as a full service network airline. This is a further move away from its LCC past, just as LCCs are encroaching on long haul in addition to short haul.
airberlin must aim for a profit in 2016 after eighth straight operating loss in 2015 and 1Q2016 loss
Airberlin was the only listed European airline to record an operating loss in 2015. Moreover, both its operating loss and its net loss were wider than in 2014. Its 1Q2016 losses show little sign of progress, although they represent the seasonally weakest quarter and airberlin expects an improvement for FY2016.
Airberlin's restructuring programme led to network adjustments and capacity reduction in 2015. Helped also by new fare classes and other commercial developments, this drove an increase in load factor and unit revenue. However, its unit cost rose more rapidly than its unit revenue in 2015. After seeing both measures fall in 2014 (with CASK falling more quickly), this marked a return to the trend of several years - one that has left it mired in eight straight years of operating losses.
Since the end of 2015 when airberlin's cash balance was at a new low it has secured fresh debt funding, thanks in no small measure to its largest shareholder, Etihad. In 2016 further fuel cost benefits and expected yield growth may just provide the conditions for airberlin to return to profit. Although airberlin has not yet given a target for the year, achieving this should be a minimum goal.