Lufthansa Cargo’s profit fell 57 percent year-over-year to $50.4 million in the third quarter, as the German air carrier warned the future is clouded by economic uncertainty and the impact of a Frankfurt night flight ban.
Revenue from the cargo unit dropped 1.9 percent to $1 billion during the same period. Deutsche Lufthansa, the parent company, saw profit fall 21.3 percent to $692 million in the third quarter, despite revenue rising about 7 percent to $11.3 billion.
Lufthansa was projecting strong revenue and earnings growth in the fourth quarter until a local court temporarily banned night flights at its Frankfurt hub effective October 30. The ban spurred the carrier to cancel to up to three weekly freighter flights to China and overhaul other services.
Lufthansa Cargo said it is too early to predict the impact of the ban – which will stay in place until a higher court makes a final ruling in early 2012. But the carrier expects full-year revenue to be higher than in 2010 and operating profit to be “substantially positive,” albeit lower than last year.
The company’s profit in the first nine months of 2011 fell 24.7 percent year-over to $242 million, as revenue increased 10.2 percent to $3.1 billion on strong growth in export shipments to the U.S. Lufthansa Cargo carried 1.41 million tons of freight in the first three quarters, up 8.4 percent on the 1.3 million tons in the 2010 period, and cargo revenue grew 9.5 percent.
Capacity increased 12.3 percent due to the re-activation of idled MD-11 freighters and the delivery of 777 freighters to its 50 percent owned all-cargo carrier Aerologic in the first half of the year. This clipped the load factor by 1.8 percentage points to 69.3 percent.
Franz said Lufthansa is analyzing profitability at its Jade Cargo International venture with China’s Shenzhen Airlines, in which it has a 25 percent stake.
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