The second largest German airline airberlin is looking at the future more positively after a poor 2011.
As airberlin CEO Hartmut Mehdorn reported at the company's press conference to announce the results for the financial year on Friday in Berlin: âDespite record figures for turnover and passenger numbers, we cannot be satisfied with the 2011 results.â Not only as a result of the severe winter in Europe in early 2011, the Arab Spring, air-traffic control strikes and the threat of strike action, the results remained well below expectations. In particular the introduction of air traffic tax (165.6 million Euros) and the rise in fuel prices (229.2 million Euros) added costs of around 395 million Euros for the company within 12 months. Mehdorn comments: âI am still confident that the German government will recognise how damaging the air traffic tax is to German aviation. It leads to distortion of competition, is environmentally nonsensical and puts jobs at risk.â The fact that six German airlines have to pay almost 60 percent of the approximately one billion Euros in taxes, whereas the remaining 40 percent is paid by 100 foreign airline companies, is said to be absurd.
As Mehdorn says: âairberlin is now able, through major course corrections and other actions, to detect positive effects, and therefore to look to the future with optimism.â This means that the efficiency improvement programme âShape & Sizeâ is likely to show its effectiveness as early as the first quarter; despite the roughly 35 million Euros of extra costs due to the rise in aviation fuel prices, a better result will be attained in comparison with the previous year's quarter. airberlin's CFO Ulf HĂŒttmeyer comments: âOur fitness programme âShape & Size' will reach its full effect and unfold in the second half. We expect to achieve an operational improved result of more than 200 million Euros this year alone.â Performance in all areas is visibly improving; we have ridden out the bottoming out processâ, emphasised Mehdorn. He also gave a positive assessment of the strategic partnership with Etihad Airways and membership in the oneworldÂź global airline alliance which commenced on 20th March. Both would offer attractive growth opportunities to the company after consolidation.
2011 balance sheet
Compared with the previous year, Air Berlin PLC 2011 was able to increase turnover by 13.7 percent to 4.23 billion Euros (previous year: 3.72 billion Euros) and the number of passengers by 1.2 percent to 35.3 million (previous year: 33.6 million). Operational expenditure at the EBITDAR level has increased by 20.6 percent from 3.16 billion Euros to 3.81 billion Euros. In fact the increase in expenditure would have been distinctly lower without additional taxes and one-off effects. Because of this additional expenditure, the EBITDAR (result before interest, taxes, depreciation and rental costs) of 618.5 million Euros reduced by 31.1 percent to 425.9 million Euros during the financial year 2011. The EBIT (operating result before interest and taxes) falls from -9.3 million Euros to -247.0 million Euros. Contrary to this, the financial result has improved from -133.3 million Euros to -111.9 million Euros. Lower financing costs contributed mainly to the lower level of costs. The pre-tax result in the 2011 financial year is -358.8 million Euros after -141.6 million Euros in 2010. After a tax credit of 93.2 million Euros, the net result for the reporting year is -265.6 million Euros after -97.2 million Euros in the previous year. Equity capital is 259.9 million Euros (previous year: 505.3 million Euros) and net indebtedness is 813.0 million Euros (previous year: 489.3 million Euros).
Shape & Size: airberlin's fitness programme
With its efficiency improvement programme âShape & Sizeâ, airberlin intends to make an improvement in the operating result of more than 200 million Euros in 2012 alone. âShape & Sizeâ is the comprehensive programme rolled out across the group to improve the efficiency of all operating processes. This includes, amongst other measures, the optimisation of network and fleet, processes and allocation of staff, savings in administration and procurement with the aim of sustainably reducing overall operating costs while achieving higher revenues, including the implementation of a state-of-the-art sales platform through which a better use can be made of available capacity and a higher average seat occupancy factor can be achieved.
Strategic partnership with Etihad Airways
Due to the strategic partnership with Etihad Airways entered into on 19th December, new markets have opened up to airberlin and its passengers, providing new growth opportunities in Asia and Australia. Likewise, passengers travelling with Etihad Airways will benefit from airberlin's dense European network and its links to North America. Both parties are also looking for synergies in their co-operation. The strategic partnership links the route networks and frequent-flyer programmes of both airlines with one another and expands the flight offers for both companies to 239 destinations in 77 countries. Both route networks are expanded in an ideal way, as they scarcely overlap and therefore complement one another. The co-operation between Etihad Airways and airberlin will be comprehensive. Both companies announced just a few days ago, for instance, that they will be combining their programme for the procurement, specification and maintenance of the future Boeing 787 Dreamliner. A series of joint working groups have also been formed to obtain benefits from this co-operation. The frequent-flyer programmes of both airlines are co-operating, so that topbonus members will be able to collect both status and premium miles on all flights with Etihad Airways.
Membership in oneworld airline alliance
When airberlin will become a member of the global alliance oneworld on 20th March, this represents a further major strategic step. Membership in oneworld massively expands the offers for airberlin passengers: the access opportunities to gateways increase to 75 and destinations to around 800 in 150 countries. The alliance fleet comprises around 2,500 aircraft, offers around 9,000 flights per day and transports 300 million passengers per year. Customers of the airberlin frequent flyer programme topbonus can collect and redeem status and premium miles worldwide with 11 oneworld carriers. Frequent flyers also gain access to more than 550 airport lounges worldwide. And the airberlin frequent flyer program topbonus is already co-operating with some frequent flyer programmes operated by other members of oneworld. topbonus participants can collect and redeem miles over the whole route network of the oneworld alliance.