Lufthansa defies tough market by raising forecasts

has defied tough market conditions by raising its forecasts for the full-year 2008, as lower fuel prices and cost reductions offset weakening demand.
The German carrier said it would post a full-year operating profit of around 1.3 billion euros (US$1.7 billion), compared with its previous expectation of 1.1 billion, thanks to a stronger-than-expected fourth quarter.It is due to report 2008 results on March 11, and its bullish forecasts come despite it having to cancel dozens of flights last month due to cabin crew strikes over pay. It also said its outlook was more pessimistic than usual due to the particularly tough current market.
The news comes within a fortnight of its arch rivals Air France and British Airways both issuing profit warnings.
German airlines’ association BDF said it cut its full-year 2009 outlook for passenger numbers to a fall 5 percent instead of 3 percent following a sharp slump in January.
The airport operator Fraport has said passenger numbers at Frankfurt airport, Germany’s biggest, fell around 6 percent in January compared with the year-earlier period.
However, the robust German market is still attracting interest. NetJets, a plane-sharing company owned by investor Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, has agreed to buy German airport Frankfurt Egelsbach for an undisclosed sum.