El Al hit by revenue drop, but shares gain

Shares in El Al Airlines gained 1.1% yesterday, upon the release of the carrier’s financial results for the three months ended 30-Sep-2009. The Israeli carrier’s profits reduced, despite a 15% year-on-year reduction in operating costs.

El Al reported an 18% year-on-year decline in total revenue for the period, as passenger fares declined 20% and cargo revenues dropped 47% year-on-year, as well as the rise of the U.S. Dollar in relation to other currencies.

Operating profit reduced to USD23.8 million for the three months ended 30-Sep-2009, compared to USD51.1 million in the previous corresponding period, while net profit reduced to USD12.3 million in the quarter, compared to USD31 million in the previous corresponding period.

Aegean Airlines profit reduce, shares down

Shares in Aegean Airlines closed 1.4% lower yesterday, upon the release of the carrier’s financial results for the nine months ended 30-Sep-2009. The carrier reported profits as revenue climbed 2.8% year-on-year and passenger numbers jumped 10.0% to 5.1 million, led by a 21% year-on-year increase in international passengers.

While Aegean Airlines’ operating profit was down 16.3% year-on-year to 57.4 million, net profit increased 42.0% year-on-year to EUR37.7 million.

Aegean Airlines Managing Director, Dimitris Gerogiannis, noted that in a “challenging environment for the European airline sector, Aegean continued its moderate expansion and at the same time managed to report healthy financial results”. Mr Gerogiannis added the carrier “cannot ignore the significant yield pressures as a result of the crisis and the competitive environment, which now have a significant impact on our operating profitability”.

Lufthansa suspending first class ticketing on five sectors

Meanwhile Lufthansa’s shares lost 2.6% yesterday, as the carrier announced plans to suspend first class ticketing on five long-haul services from Frankfurt, with the carrier to only be offering a two-class economy and business class service routes between Frankfurt and Nanjing, Guangzhou, Osaka, Kolkata, and Accra (continuing on to Libreville), from 15-Dec-2009 until 27-Mar-2010.

Lufthansa stated the move, which covers 4% of long-haul routes where a three-class service is normally available, has been made as "demand is currently low for first class on specific connections". The carrier will not reconfigure the aircraft during the period.

Aer Lingus joins with Cityjet and Ryanair, calling to eliminate tourist tax

Aer Lingus led the way down (-8.4%) yesterday. Aer Lingus, Cityjet and Ryanair released details of a report commissioned by the carriers from Amsterdam Aviation Economics.

The report states that the EUR10 tourism tax imposed by the Irish Government result in revenue losses of EUR482 million, up to 3,000 lost jobs and 1.2 million less departing passengers, while generating just EUR116 million in tax revenue in first year. The report found that the Irish airlines have absorbed most of the tax and have been forced to reduce capacity and move aircraft to bases outside Ireland as a direct result of the imposition of the tax.

The three carriers have repeated calls to eliminate the EUR10 travel tax. Between them the three carriers account for 83% of air travel passengers to and from Ireland.

Elsewhere, shares Turkish Airlines gained 1.4%, while British Airways lost 4.4% and Air France-KLM were down 6.2%.

In news from the Nordic region, Icelandair Group signed an agreement on 25-Nov-2009, regarding the sale of 20% of its share in the Czech airline, Travel Service (parent of SmartWings). After the transaction, Icelandair Group holds a 30% share in Travel Service. The acquirer is Canaria Travel, which is under the same ownership as Icelandair Group's co-owners in Travel Service. After the sale, Travel Service becomes an affiliated company instead of being a subsidiary. The effects of the sale on the income statement are negative by ISK0.9 billion (EUR4.9 million) and equity decreases by ISK1.5 billion (EUR8.2 million). The Group‘s total assets decrease by ISK12 billion (EUR65 million). With the sale, Icelandair Group will not participate in the financing of Travel Service's expansion.

Europe selected airlines daily share price movements (% change): 26-Nov-09