Air France the first European to operate the A380, shares down

Shares in Air France-KLM lost 4.8% on Friday, as the carrier added capacity to its fleet, commencing the delivery of A380 orders.

Air France took delivery of its first A380 on 30-Oct-2009. Three of the twelve Air France A380s on order will be delivered to Air France between now and Spring 2010, to be closely followed by a fourth. Starting on 23-Nov-2009, the Air France A380 will be operated on daily Paris Charles de Gaulle-New York JFK services, followed by Paris-Johannesburg during Winter 2009-2010.

Air France is the first European carrier to operate the A380 and the first airline worldwide to offer transatlantic services between Europe and the USA with the aircraft. Air France’s A380 is configured in three class: Nine La Première-First seats on the main deck, 80 Affaires-Business seats on the upper deck and 449 Voyageur-Economy seats spread over the two decks. 22 flight attendants are on board to serve the 538 customers.

Lufthansa digests financial results

Lufthansa’s shares dipped 1.3% on Friday, while Austrian Airlines closed 5.6% lower, following the release of the Group’s financial results for the nine months ended 30-Sep-2009 on Thursday last week.

On the outlook, Lufthansa CFO, Stephan Gemkow, told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (01-Nov-2009) that he expects Austrian Airlines to make a contribution to Lufthansa Group's operating profits from 2011. He also stated that Brussels Airlines is expected to be profitable in 2010, although he does not expect BMI to be profitable in 2010. Mr Gemkow added that he would not rule out any further acquisitions.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa has withdrawn BMI from sale, stating it is no longer in talks with buyers after an acceptable sale price was not achieved, with plans to concentrate instead on turning around the loss-making carrier. Former Jet Airways CEO, Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, will become CEO of BMI today, tasked with restructuring the carrier.

Lufthansa also stated it is interested in expanding its operations to Nigeria, but has no intention of acquiring any airlines in Nigeria.

British Airways making progress with Iberia

In other consolidation news, British Airways CEO, Willie Walsh, told Bloomberg (31-Oct-2009) the carrier has made “a lot of progress in the last month,” towards its merger with Iberia and he remains “positive towards it”.

Mr Walsh also commented that the US Department of Transportation is likely to rule on the anti-trust immunity application by the carrier, American Airlines and Iberia in mid-Nov-2009. The CEO has continued to express his confidence that the planned business agreement between the carriers will be approved although admitted his disappointment at the delays.

Shares in both British Airways and Iberia were down 4.1% on Friday.

Elsewhere, SAS closed higher (+1.9%), Finnair gained (+0.5%), Aer Lingus dipped (-0.4%) and Aeroflot dropped (-5.9%).

Europe selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 30-Oct-09