Austrian results boosted by shorter haul focus

Austrian Airlines is seeing strong growth on short and medium haul which is compensating for a reduction in the company’s long-haul routes.

The Chief Executive Officer of Austrian Airlines AG, Alfred ?-tsch, made the following statement on the current traffic results for the period January to September 2007: “The Austrian Airlines Group carried around 8.35 million passengers in the first three quarters of 2007. We are particularly pleased by this result, because the strong growth in high-volume scheduled traffic on short- and medium-haul routes has almost entirely made up for the reduction made in the long-haul segment, as planned. The positive trend is clear confirmation of the corporate strategy adopted.”

Short- and medium-haul scheduled segment compensates for reduction in long-haul
The Austrian Airlines Group carried around 6.15 million passengers in the short- and medium-haul segment in the first three quarters of 2007. This is an increase of 8.0% compared to the previous year. The expansion in capacity of 8.4% (measured in available seat kilometers or ASK) was balanced by a strong increase in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) of 10.8%. The passenger load factor stood at 67.9%, an increase of 1.5 percentage points on the previous year’s figure.

The Group also achieved an increase in passenger numbers in September. The 4.5% increase in the number of passengers carried for the month was achieved on the strength of a 5.7% expansion in capacity (ASK) and a 7.9% increase in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK). This produced a positive trend in the passenger load factor of 1.6 percentage points compared to the previous year. The passenger load factor in September was 73.8%.

Load factor increased on long-haul routes
Almost one million passengers were carried on long-haul routes from the beginning of the year to September 2007. The fall of 14.2% in the number of passengers carried compared to the same period in 2006 was due to the redimensioning of the long-haul segment implemented according to plan. Despite the reduction in capacity of 25.6% (ASK) seen as a result of the redimensioning, the figure for revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) fell at the slower rate of 22.6%. This resulted in a significant improvement in the passenger load factor, which rose by 3.3 percentage points to 82.4%.

ADVERTISEMENT

Long-haul route capacity (ASK) was selectively reduced by 30.9% in September, while there was a reduction of 30.7% in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK). As a result, the passenger load factor remained consistently high, and now stands at 83.8%.

Scheduled traffic overall continues to enjoy positive trend
The Austrian Airlines Group carried a total of 7.15 million scheduled passengers in the first three quarters of 2007, an increase of 4.2% on the number carried in the comparison period in 2006. Capacity on scheduled services overall was reduced by 12.5% (ASK). The figure for revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) fell at the slower rate of 11.1%, however, compensating for this trend. The passenger load factor increased by 1.2 percentage points as a result, and now stands at 75.5%.

Overall, the scheduled segment only fluctuated slightly in September compared to the same period last year. Available seat kilometers (ASK) were reduced by 16.3%, corresponding approximately to the reduction in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) of 16.6%. The passenger load factor for scheduled traffic in September remained constant as a result, at 78.8%. Despite the reduction in long-haul routes noted above, passenger volume in September rose by 0.4% in absolute figures compared to the previous year, to reach 877,100.

Charter traffic maintains stable load factor
From the beginning of the year to September 2007 inclusive, the load factor for charter traffic grew by 1.3 percentage points compared to the same period the previous year to reach 79.8%. The load factor for September 2007 also improved slightly compared to the figure for September 2006, rising by 1.8 percentage points to the high level of 80.5%.

The reduction in the number of passengers in this segment - as in previous months - was a result of structural effects (Slovak Airlines being included in the comparison figures for 2006) and a targeted reduction in capacity, primarily on medium-haul routes, to strengthen profitability. A total of four fewer charter aircraft were used this year compared to 2006, with two deployed on scheduled routes in 2007 and the other two originally in use at Slovak Airlines. Despite a difficult season, charter capacity was well managed and successfully offset in the market.
——-