Lufthansa has suffered its first loss since 1993, reporting a net loss of €633 million ($563 million) for 2001. "It was not a good year for our shareholders," says chief financial officer Karl-Ludwig Kley. Operating profit for the year was €28 million.

Chairman Jürgen Weber says that, despite the poor financial result, yields remained stable. Passenger yields climbed 0.4% and were positive in all regions except Europe, while cargo yields grew 1.9%. The outlook is not positive, however, with Kley saying: "At present it seems doubtful whether this tendency can be maintained, given the increased activities of state-subsidised airlines."

Kley says the airline carried 46 million passengers in 2001, 2.7% down on 2000. "Up to August the figures were 2.5% ahead," he says. As a result of the drop in traffic revenues fell by 2.4% to €12.3 billion. However, total group revenues climbed 9.8% to €16.7 billion, "largely due to consolidation effects".

The airline declines to reveal figures for the first quarter of 2002 - these will be released on 15 May - but says that, although the decline "is diminishing, traffic is still clearly below its year-earlier level".

Traffic figures show 11% fewer passengers in the first quarter of 2002 compared with the same period in 2001, with freight 7% down. Nevertheless, passenger and cargo load factors have climbed more than 2.5% to 73% and 68%, respectively, following capacity cuts.

Weber says that although Lufthansa's objective is to return "to the old growth path as quickly as possible", this should not be "under the old conditions governing the airline business". Weber is calling for an end to air traffic delays and airport bottlenecks, a strict ban on state subsidies, no government-backed competition distortion and continued liberalisation.

Source: Flight International