Estonian Air creeps back towards profitability

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Estonian Air is claiming it achieved its first monthly profit in nearly three years during June, as it cut first-half net losses by more than 60%.

Its revenues for the first six months reached €36 million ($48 million). While this figure was down by nearly 20%, the airline slashed its net loss to €5.8 million. Second-quarter net losses fell by 80% to €900,000.

Estonian Air says this loss reduction is "slightly ahead of plan" and illustrates that its restructuring plan is "working". Chief executive Jan Palmer says: "The turnaround programme of the company has now been completed."

Passenger numbers were down by 35% in the first half and the workforce was nearly halved to 171 personnel.

"The company has done, from its side, everything needed in terms of downsizing,' says Palmer. "As a smaller regional carrier, we can now focus on improving day-to-day operations to reach sustainability. In such a volatile industry, this can be a difficult challenge.

"The mission of Estonian Air is to provide Estonia with double daily connections to destinations of strategic importance."

Estonian Air is still evaluating fleet options as it works towards operating a single jet type from 2015. It has Bombardier CRJ900s and Embraer 170s, having returned its last Boeing 737 to its lessor.

Subsidiary operation Estonian Air Regional has been divested, it adds, to a buyer it identifies as Fortaero. The legal adviser on the divestment says the former operation had no employees, assets or aircraft but held a valid air operator's certificate. Its new shareholder will change the company name and use the legal structure to set up its own separate air service.