- Passenger numbers: 186,512, +27% year-on-year;
- Load factor: 61%, -1 ppt;
- Flights: 3,565, +29%. [more]
airBaltic passenger numbers jump 27%, load factor down 1ppt in Feb-2010
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airBaltic: the hybrid LCC punches above its weight; back to growth and positive EBIT in 2016
For Latvia's national airline, 2016 was a pivotal year. Riga-based airBaltic completed a multi year restructuring programme, increased its passenger numbers for the first time in five years, secured a capital increase and a private investor, and became the launch customer for the Bombardier CS300. On 28-Mar-2016 it further celebrated its successes by announcing a return to positive EBIT, alongside a net profit, for last year.
It has achieved its turnaround in the face of strong competition from foreign LCCs, justifying its positioning as a "hybrid LCC". Data provided to CAPA confirm that its unit cost level is also broadly consistent with the LCC tag. It is now seeking further investment from a strategic investor – preferably another airline. It also faces a decision about the replacement of its Dash 8 turboprop fleet.
AirBaltic CEO Martin Gauss told CAPA that the airline plans for passenger growth to accelerate from 12% in the past year to 16% in 2017, taking traffic levels back above 3 million passengers. For an airline based in a country inhabited by only 2 million people, this suggests that airBaltic has been making some judicious network decisions.
airberlin: another record loss, but "Jack of all trades" may have a chance to escape Groundhog Day
The German airline airberlin made another record loss in 2016 and has reported net losses in eight of the past nine years. It has lost a cumulative EUR1.9 billion in the five years since Etihad became a shareholder. The only small net profit, in 2012, was because Etihad bought its loyalty scheme. The first results for this year show that losses worsened in 1Q2017.
The better news is that, with shareholder Etihad's support, airberlin has sufficient liquidity to continue, and it has a restructuring plan with a new CEO. If the story of losses, Etihad support, restructuring and a new CEO sounds familiar, it is because it is. Airberlin has been through this almost as many times as Bill Murray in Ground Hog Day.
Crucially, though, the latest restructuring does seem genuinely radical. As new CEO Thomas Winkelmann has said, airberlin used to be a "Jack of all trades", but master of none. Past restructurings made it a Jack of fewer trades, but never fully resolved this lack of focus. The current plan brings it focus as a network airline – scaling down, and largely exiting from leisure. There is still much execution to be done, and competitive conditions are unlikely to ameliorate, but Mr Winkelmann may have a better chance than his predecessors.