Lufthansa Cargo denied reports it is considering plans to retire all 19 of its MD-11 cargo aircraft (Reuters, 18-Sep-09). The carrier however has removed three aircraft from service and plans to remove one additional aircraft on 01-Oct-09. Lufthansa forecasts an operating loss for its cargo business in 2009.
Lufthansa Cargo denies plans to ground 19 freight aircraft
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Lufthansa cuts 1Q2016 operating loss, but mainly thanks to one-offs and fuel. Cost focus still key
The Lufthansa Group narrowed its operating loss in the seasonally weak 1Q2016, in spite of a fall in revenue. A weak pricing environment was more than offset by a reduction in unit costs. This was principally thanks to lower fuel costs, but there was also a welcome fall in underlying ex fuel CASK at constant currency.
However, although Lufthansa Passenger reported higher profits than in 1Q2015, there was a decline for SWISS, Eurowings, Cargo, MRO and Catering. For LCC Eurowings, this was partly due to start-up costs in long haul and at Vienna, but it also reflected strong LCC competition in Germany. Lufthansa is still considering whether to add Brussels Airlines to its Eurowings operation. Austrian only improved its result because of a one-off gain and, moreover, it seems that the improvement in operating profit at the Group level compared with 1Q2015 was due to one-off items.
Lufthansa still expects to post a slightly higher adjusted EBIT result in 2016 than in 2015. Nevertheless, its 1Q2016 report demonstrates that, for all its restructuring progress, it is not achieving results that are consistent with the broader cyclically high margins of the global airline industry. Further CASK reduction remains the focus.
Chinese long haul secondary city air routes: BA's Chengdu exit does not reflect the broader market
The fastest long haul airline growth is not occurring with Gulf airlines but rather, with services to and from secondary Chinese cities. It is not a secret that local incentives and subsidies, generally common in any market, are especially large in price and duration for secondary Chinese cities. An airline might expect over a third of revenues to be subsidised. This drastically alters the business case in a low-margin industry, hence the proliferation of secondary city services. This extreme dependence on subsidies raises the question of how long governments are willing to issue generous subsidies, and how many routes can be sustainable without them.
British Airways' decision to exit its only secondary Chinese route to Chengdu, in Jan-2017, might suggest the music is ending and the secondary long haul bubble is popping. There is added colour given the recent UK-China air service agreement expansion, and Brexit/British pound depreciation overhangs.
BA's exit does confirm market fundamentals: secondary city yields are low, and some routes are ahead of their time. Yet a number of factors unique to British Airways suggest caution in concluding that BA's Chengdu exit could foreshadow other withdrawals.