Air Baltic’s ReShape plan delivers first quarterly profit

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Air Baltic has posted a net profit of 4.8 million lats ($8.93 million) for the third quarter of 2012, ending a string of quarterly losses and placing the airline ahead of schedule in its 'ReShape' restructuring plan.

For the quarter to 30 September 2012, the Latvian flag carrier achieved its net profit on revenues of 70.8 million lats.

Air Baltic operated 13,300 flights in the period between July and September - marking a 17% year-on-year reduction - while passenger numbers stood at 920,000.

"We are delighted to see that Air Baltic ReShape restructuring programme brings consistently better net results every month," says chief executive Martin Gauss.

"We have achieved three consecutive months of profitability in July, August and September, and expect to over-achieve our original ReShape targets by the year-end. The same period a year ago recorded a deep loss and we are very satisfied to deliver a profitable result for Q3 in 2012."

ReShape was initiated earlier this year and had initially targeted a loss of 38 million lats in 2012 - more than halving the previous year's losses - but in September Gauss told Flightglobal that it is already 5 million lats ahead of schedule.

Though he admitted that the winter quarter will be more challenging, he insisted that deep capacity reductions and staff rationalisation will continue to reduce costs.

Air Baltic's 29-strong fleet comprises eight Boeing 737-300s, six 737-500s, eight Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s and seven Fokker 50s. The airline is retiring the Fokkers and renegotiating the 737s ahead of its upcoming Q400 and CSeries deliveries. It also wet leases two 757-200s to Cambodia's Tonlé Sap Airlines.

Over the winter season, the operational fleet will contract to nine 737-300s, two 737-500s, eight Q400s and five Fokker 50s.

In addition to the forecasted lost of 38 million lats for 2012, ReShape envisages sinking 16 million lats into the red in 2013 before returning to profitability in 2014. Air Baltic lost about 80 million lats in 2011.