LOT fleet restructuring to focus on most efficient types

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Poland's government indicates that flag-carrier LOT is to undergo a fleet overhaul as it estimates that the carrier is facing losses of Zl200 million ($63 million) for 2012.

Treasury minister Mikolaj Budzanowski told a session of the Sejm on 4 January that the airline needed a "radical restructuring" in the first quarter of 2013.

He was responding to questions in the Sejm from parliamentary member Adam Kwiatkowski, who raised concerns over the state of LOT and queried a government loan of Zl400 million to the company.

Budzanowski said LOT had around 40 aircraft but that the fleet "should be reduced". He said the carrier needed restructured fleet, "focusing on the most efficient aircraft".

He said there were around 25 of these aircraft in the fleet, and others should be returned from lease. But he also pointed out that returning some 13 aircraft "also costs money" because they had to be released in a suitable condition.

LOT has typically lost around Zl120-150 million per year over the past five or six years, Budzanowski said, as a result of high costs and a poor European transport market situation.

While analysis of financial results at the end of August pointed to a possible "turn" towards profitability, he said, the situation rapidly deteriorated in the autumn-winter period, with a fall in sales revenue.

Although LOT's chief, he added, had "assured" a supervisory board meeting in October that the company could maintain its positive trend, this was not borne out by the company's performance in November and December.

Budzanowski said the losses could amount to Zl200 million. He added that the situation was brought to his attention in mid-November and said there had been an "urgent need" to provide loans to LOT.