Lufthansa Cargo boosted operating profit by 35 percent in the traditionally weak first quarter and said it expects full year earnings to better its 2012 result as it continues to cull capacity in line with weak global demand.
Profit rose to 27 million euros ($35.4 million) from 20 million euros ($26.2 million) in the first three months of 2012 on revenue down 9.5 percent at 599 million euros ($785 million) against 662 million euros ($ 867 million) a year ago.
The cargo profit contrasts with a $476 million loss at the much larger passenger division.
Freight traffic declined 7.2 percent to 399,000 metric tons on 7.4 percent less capacity, which raised the load factor by 1.1 percentage points to 71.4 percent.
The Asia-Pacific region saw the sharpest fall in tonnage, down 11.2 percent at 102,000 tons, while revenue collapsed 16.8 percent to $292 million. Major Chinese markets recovered slightly, but the situation deteriorated in Japan and Southeast Asia.
Volume on the Americas network shrank 7 percent to 123,000 tons, but revenue was down only 2 percent at $326 million, and the load factor firmed by 0.7 points to 72 percent.
The Middle East/Africa was the only region that posted higher traffic, up 7.4 percent at 36,000 tons. Revenue stagnated, however, at $67 million.
The carrier said it still expects demand to recover “notably” and tonnage to increase again in the second half of the year.
For the full year, Lufthansa Cargo expects to post an operating profit that will exceed last year’s $136 million.
The Lufthansa group booked a $470 million operating loss, unchanged from the year earlier period, on flat revenue of $8.7 billion.
“We took another step towards our target of sustainable earnings improvements in the first quarter. Nearly all the group companies improved their result,” said Simone Menne, member of Lufthansa’s executive board responsible for finances.