We are pleased to announce profits of EUR 2.9 million for the 2nd Quarter of 2002, 33% ahead of the EUR 2.1 million shown for the 2nd Quarter last year. We have returned to profits having successfully handled the disruptions of the September 11th tragedy and the resulting bankruptcy of our largest customer Sabena on November 7th 2001.
Overall our sales grew by 9%. However, this figure does not describe the fundamental change that has occurred to our business over the past year. One year ago over 40% of our sales were contracted to Sabena. Following Sabena`s bankruptcy, this revenue was lost, freeing up capacity for us to sell directly to the public. We expanded our route network from 8 to 14 destinations. In the first quarter of the year our own sales began to grow and in the second quarter were more than double last year`s 2nd Quarter. Only 15% of our revenue is now linked to SN Brussels Airlines through a contract negotiated in January 2002 and due to expire on March 2003. We believe that the growth in own sales has been driven by the travelling public`s appreciation of the value for money offering of our product. Load factors averaged at 79%, down on last year when almost half of the load factor was accounted for by seats sold to Sabena, but ahead of load factors in the 1st Quarter 2002. The increase over the year has been helped by the success of our new routes to Lisbon and Athens.
The punctuality of our flights has been maintained well above industry standards with more than 90% leaving on time throughout 2002, in spite of continued air traffic control problems within Europe. We have achieved this level of performance with our whole organisation focussed and rewarded against monthly targets. Good on time performance and friendly customer service has been reflected in very low levels of customer complaints. This gives us confidence that we will continue to gain share and grow our revenues on all our routes.
Operating costs have been well controlled, helped by lower fuel prices, weaker dollar and longer sector lengths. Costs per ASK in the 2nd Quarter are at 6.28 Euro cents, 15% lower than for the same period last year. With our restructuring complete, we have costs in line with comparable low fare airlines and significantly lower than the major carriers.
On 10th July 2002 we announced that we would be expanding into Germany with a base in Köln-Bonn as of December 2002. In response to our announcement, Lufthansa has let it be known that it would start up its own low-fare carrier, German Wings, and TUI has recently announced the start up of Hapag-Lloyd Express, both based in Köln-Bonn and both on competing routes. These large companies are intent solely on protecting their base businesses and we intend to monitor very carefully their activities. We believe the German public deserves the sort of value for money fares over the long term, which we have been able to offer the Belgian traveller.
Our 3rd Quarter has started well and we would anticipate profits ahead of those announced last year. For the remainder of the year we are 75% hedged on the dollar and 56% hedged on fuel. As we announced in August 2002, we will be withdrawing from London Heathrow at the end of October, as a result of SN Brussels Airlines selling its Heathrow slots. Capacity freed up will be absorbed elsewhere in the network. In line with previous announcements profits are again expected from the Belgian-centred business for year end.
David Hoare / Executive Chairman
Results for 2nd Quarter: In the second quarter of 2002 the Company reported a pre-tax profit of EUR 2.9 million versus pre-tax profit of EUR 2.1 million in the second quarter of 2001.
Revenues - Overall sales volume for the quarter increased by 9% to EUR 61.8 million, compared to EUR 56.7 million for the second quarter of last year. Despite the downturn in the aviation industry, the Company has succeeded in replacing more than all the Sabena revenue, which represented over 40% of the 2001 scheduled income. This achievement was a result of the continuous improvement in our services and on time performance (above 90%), increased use of our flights by corporate travellers, further developments in our distribution, pricing and revenue management strategy and the expansion of our network of destinations.
Expenses - Because of the continuous cost control process of the second quarter 2002, the company succeeded to decrease its system unit costs by 15% to 6.28 Euro cents per ASK. Indeed, the operating expenses remained at around the same level as last year, EUR 60.5 million, while the production (ASKs) increased by 40%. However, as a consequence of the tragic events of 11th September, some costs beyond the company`s control have been significantly increased. (e.g. en-route navigation charges and passenger liability insurance costs) by the respective suppliers.