Air Berlin takes over dba

Air Berlin PLC has acquired 100 per cent of the shares in dba Luftfahrtgesellschaft Munich. “Acquiring our dream partner was an opportunity not to be missed,” commented Joachim Hunold, the company’s chief executive office, in Frankfurt on Thursday.

At the same time he presented the financial figures for the second quarter of 2006, according to which Air Berlin had made a net profit of 30 million euros between April and June. The profit before interest and taxes amounted to 44.8 million euros. The acquisition of dba will not have an adverse effect on Air Berlin’s results. Hunold is anticipating a “handsome profit” in 2006.

The contract for the purchase of dba shares, which is still subject to the approval of the German cartel office, was signed in Munich on Wednesday evening. Joachim Hunold remarked that the takeover was designed to secure Air Berlin’s growth. Hunold cited the following individual reasons for the acquisition: “the route networks of Air Berlin and dba complement each other superbly because there are no overlaps. We can integrate dba’s domestic routes in our European network without any problem, thereby achieving a clear increase in the number of business travellers using our airline. Not least because we will be gaining 62 new corporate contracts at a stroke. The dba slots, especially those at the airports of Munich and Düsseldorf, can not be rated too highly either. Air Berlin would have been unable to achieve any growth at these airports in its own right. We will now be improving our strategic position, particularly in Munich.” Hunold emphasised that the management team of dba had increased the company’s profitability since its acquisition from British Airways. By signing an attractive contract for the purchase of 25 Boeing 737s with delivery from 2008 to replace the aircraft that are currently being leased, the company had also taken the right decision in terms of its future development.


Integrated brand image

dba is to continue to operate as an independent company under the umbrella of Air Berlin PLC. Martin Gauss and Peter Wojahn will remain as managing directors. However, in future the company will be marketed as Air Berlin (“powered by dba”). The flight schedules for the coming winter months will be harmonised where possible. A joint summer schedule will be in operation from 1st April 2007. Optimised operational planning could achieve a considerable increase in aircraft utilisation. Hunold stated: “In summer, when there are fewer business travellers, we can make excellent use of the dba aircraft on our tourist routes. And then we would also have the option of using the larger Air Berlin jets on dba’s busy domestic German routes when required. Air Berlin’s boss also believes that synergies will be derived from joint purchasing, yield management and logistics. Air Berlin’s marketing organisation will also make 13,000 tourist travel agencies in Germany accessible to dba.

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Joachim Hunold spoke of the net purchase price as “an amount in the mid-two-figure millions”. This will be paid from Air Berlin PLC’s liquid funds; consequently no capital increase will be required.


20 million passengers expected

In the financial year 2005/2006 dba, with its 29 aircraft, carried approx. 4.3 million passengers and achieved a turnover of 404 million euros with 720 employees. Last year Air Berlin counted 13.5 million passengers and posted a turnover of 1.215 billion euros. Air Berlin currently operates 58 aircraft. Together Air Berlin and dba expect to carry around 20 million passengers.

On the occasion of the dba acquisition, Air Berlin PLC published its report for the second quarter of 2006 on Thursday, ahead of time. According to the figures, the company’s turnover increased to 401 million euros from April to June. The figures for the comparable period in 2005 was 330 million euros. The report for the half-year also reflected the dynamic growth in turnover, with an increase of almost 15 per cent from 545.8 million euros (2005) to 625 million euros (2006). In terms of operations the measures instigated last year with the aim of increasing the company’s efficiency have begun to bear fruit. In the second quarter the EBIT rose by over 400 per cent to 44.8 million euros (Q2 2005: 8.8 m euros) - despite the costs of flotation amounting to 13.7 million euros. After interest and taxes, Air Berlin achieved a profit of 30.1 (-4.2) million euros in the 2nd quarter of this year. A comparison of the half-year figures reveals that the operating loss traditionally incurred by airlines in the 1st quar-ter, has therefore been more than halved to 12.9 (28.2) million euros. This means that Air Berlin has practically reached the break-even point in its net earnings with a loss of one million euros (2005: -43.1 m euros). Since the acquisition of dba will not adversely affect Air Berlin’s results, Hunold is expecting a “definite profit” in 2006.


Low debt - high liquidity

“In the third quarter and with the same basic conditions, we are expecting even better results, both operationally and below the line,” explained Joachim Hunold when presenting the figures. The fact that Air Berlin is on the road to success is evident not only from the increase in passenger numbers in the first half-year (+12.46 per cent), but also from the capacity utilisation, which has increased by 2.86 per cent from 74.89 to 77.75 per cent. In the 2nd quarter the capacity utilisation even increased by 4.34 per cent from 78.46 to 82.8 per cent. Compared with 2005, the yield per available seat kilometre (ASK) increased in the first six months of 2006 by 13.69 per cent from 4.43 to 5.04 eurocents. The yield per revenue passenger kilometre (RPK) increased by 9.36 per cent over the same periods: from 5.89 to 6.44 eurocents. 4,175,226 seats were sold in the 2nd quarter of 2006 (Q2 2005: 3,622,451). This corresponds to an increase of 15.26 per cent. The comparison for the half-year reveals a gain of 12.46 per cent, from 6,159,500 to 6,926,996 revenue seats.

Hunold described the current net indebtedness of 170 million euros as “remarkably low for a fleet of 58 aircraft”. With a balance sheet total of 1.4 billion euros, equity as at 30th June 2006 amounted to 410 million euros. The equity ratio is 29 per cent. The figure Hunold gave for liquid reserves at the end of the first half-year was 383.3 million euros.
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