Lufthansa Cargo’s earnings slumped 27 percent in 2013, but it was one of the few airlines that turned a profit in a subdued global air freight market.
Operating profit fell to €77 million, from €105 million in 2012, as revenue dipped 9.2 percent to €2.44 billion.
Freight volume declined by 1 percent to 1.7 million metric tons, capacity was cut 0.3 percent and the average yield fell overall by 7.8 percent.
As traffic measured by cargo metric-ton kilometers was unchanged, the German carrier was able to keep its load factor at a very high 69.9 percent, an improvement of 0.2 percentage points on the previous year.
Sales were stable year-over-year, but lower rates – down 4.9 percent – and the adverse impact of exchange rate movements, trimmed revenues.
Lufthansa Cargo had expected to improve on its 2012 result amid signs of a pickup in global trade, but the “particularly volatile demand in the air freight market turned out to be very weak,” the carrier said.
Nevertheless, Lufthansa Cargo has booked combined profits of €741 million over the past four years when many of its rivals have lost money and are retrenching their freight operations.
Lufthansa said it was one of the few cargo airlines that invested in new aircraft and expanded its route network in 2013. Two of five Boeing 777 freighters on order entered service toward the end of the year, replacing two of the carrier’s 18 MD-11 freighters which have left the fleet. A new flight was scheduled to Lima, Peru, and the Mexican high-tech hub Guadalajara was included in the flight timetable for the first time.
Parent Lufthansa posted a net profit of €313 million, down from a €1.23 billion profit in 2012 that was inflated by the sale of a stake in a travel business. Operating profit declined 17 percent to €697 million after adjusting for a change in accounting for pensions. Revenue was broadly unchanged at €30 billion.
“We have strengthened the earnings power again last year,” said CEO Christoph Franz said in a written statement. “This performance trend is sustainable.”
Lufthansa forecast an operating profit of €1.3 billion to €1.5 billion for 2014. It also reiterated its goal of boosting operating profit by €1.5 billion from 2011, when it launched a cost-saving program, to €2.65 billion in 2015.
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