Restructuring Air Malta turns first half operating profit

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Air Malta has disclosed an operating profit of €400,000 ($525,000) for the six months to September, turning round losses of €8 million at the same stage last year.

The airline, which is in the process of a major restructuring, says the interim result is €1.4 million ahead of budget and marks its first interim operating profit for four years. It also highlights reductions in its fuel and personnel costs.

Air Malta highlights improvements in passenger and cargo revenues, running almost €5 million ahead of budget. Passenger numbers were down 500,000 to 1.05 million. But as it cut capacity 10%, Air Malta's load factor rose two points to 79%.

"These figures are the result of the efforts we have put into the restructuring of Air Malta. The concerted effort has reversed the trend of the last years and finally we are reaping financial gains," says chief executive Peter Davies.

But he cautions on the traditionally tougher second half of its financial year for the carrier because of seasonality effects.

"We have to do a lot more to cut costs," says Davies. "Although we have reduced expenditure by €6.4 million over the same period last year, we still have a substantial cost element which we need to tackle. It is imperative that we re-negotiate terms with our major suppliers so that we continue reducing overheads and losses."

Air Malta, which has reported a net loss for all but one of the last eight years, last year posted a net loss of €30 million.