Carsten Spohr, CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, said:
“The Lufthansa Group is back on track. After a good first quarter in which we were able to significantly improve our result, we now expect a travel boom in the summer as well as a new record in our traffic revenue for the year as a whole. On short- and medium-haul leisure-oriented routes, demand is already exceeding 2019 levels. The focus now is on once again offering our guests a consistent premium product experience on all group airlines. Our guests are already benefiting from numerous product improvements, both on the ground and on board. The Lufthansa Group is well positioned to further strengthen its position among the top five airline groups in global competition.”
Result First Quarter 2023
The Lufthansa Group significantly improved its result in the first quarter of 2023 compared with the previous year. This was due to the continued high demand for flight tickets - especially in the private travel segment. Pent-up demand following the Corona pandemic remains high as the high booking inflow for the summer months in the first quarter of the year clearly demonstrates.
The Group result for the first three months is still negative. This is mainly due to normal seasonality. This year, seasonality is even exacerbated by the faster recovery in the private travel segment compared to the business travel segment. Costs for the planned expansion of flight operations in the summer, investments in operational stability, and the effects of various strikes at German airports (in which the Lufthansa Group was not a negotiating partner) also weighed on earnings. However, the operating loss was halved compared to the previous year.
The Group increased its revenues by 40 percent to 7.0 billion euros (previous year: 5.0 billion euros). The Adjusted EBIT was -273 million euros (prior year: -577 million euros). The company thus achieved a significantly better result in the first quarter than in the first quarter of 2019 (Adjusted EBIT first quarter 2019: -336 million euros). Adjusted EBIT margin improved accordingly to -3.9 percent (prior year: -11.5 percent). The net loss decreased by 20 percent to -467 million euros (previous year: -584 million euros).
Group airlines improve result significantly
During the first quarter, significantly more people flew with the airlines of the Lufthansa Group than in the previous year. In total, the airlines of the Lufthansa Group welcomed 22 million passengers on board between January and March (previous year: 13 million). Capacity was significantly expanded to 75 percent of the pre-crisis level in 2019 due to sustained high demand and was thereby 30 percent above the previous year’s level in the first quarter.
Passenger airline revenue rose by 73 percent in the first quarter to 5.2 billion euros (previous year: 3.0 billion euros). In particular, the development of yields, which were 19 percent higher in the first quarter than in 2019, demonstrate the strength of demand. On long-haul routes, yields increased by as much as 25 percent. However, due to seasonality and the preparations for the expansion of flight operations in the summer months, the result was negative. The Group passenger airlines generated an Adjusted EBIT of -512 million euros in the first quarter of 2023 (previous year: -1.1 billion euros).
Lufthansa Cargo earnings normalize, Lufthansa Technik improves prior-year result
The logistics segment again generated an operating profit in the first quarter of 2023. However, this was below the record result of the first quarter of the previous year due to the market-wide normalization of air freight rates. Last year, the crisis-related reduction in air freight capacity combined with a sharp rise in demand due to disrupted supply chains had led to record revenue. Lufthansa Cargo generated an Adjusted EBIT of 151 million euros in the first quarter (previous year: 495 million euros)
Lufthansa Technik improved its results in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period of the previous year. High demand for air travel led to further demand for maintenance and repair services, with revenue rising accordingly. Lufthansa Technik generated an Adjusted EBIT of 135 million euros in the first quarter (previous year: 129 million euros).
The LSG Group’s result for the first quarter was -6 million euros (previous year: -14 million euros), while revenue increased by 40 percent to 523 million euros, supported by a noticeable recovery in Asian business.
On April 5, Deutsche Lufthansa AG signed an agreement with the private equity company AURELIUS on the sale of the LSG Group. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2023. The earnings contributions of the catering segment will be reported as “Result from discontinued operations” until then. They will thus be included in the net result, but no longer in the Group’s Adjusted EBIT.
Adjusted free cash flow positive, liquidity remains above target level
Due to continued strong bookings, operating cash flow increased to EUR 1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2023. This increase was offset by increased net capital expenditure of 1.0 billion euros (prior year: 640 million euros). The investments mainly related to advance payments for future aircraft acquisitions, capitalized large maintenance events, and final payments for six aircraft received, including those already scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of the prior year. As a result, Adjusted free cash flow decreased to 482 million euros (previous year: 780 million euros).
At the end of March 2023, the company had liquidity of 10.5 billion euros available. Liquidity thereby remains above the target corridor of 8 to 10 billion euros. As of December 31, 2022, the Lufthansa Group’s available liquidity was just below the current figure at 10.4 billion euros.
Remco Steenbergen, Chief Financial Officer of Deutsche Lufthansa AG:
“The continuously strong demand gives us confidence for the coming months. The summer travel season will provide a major contribution to achieving our targets for 2023. At the same time, we will continue to invest in operational stability to offer our customers a smooth travel experience, even if this means that we are currently operating at a much lower efficiency and productivity level than originally planned. I am all the more convinced that we still have great potential to increase our earnings beyond 2023 once we leave the ramp-up phase behind us and the overall system gains further stability.”
The desire to travel remains strong. Catch-up effects after the pandemic are still clearly noticeable. The company therefore expects a very strong travel summer, especially for private travel. The most popular vacation destination in the summer is once again Spain. However, interest in city breaks and short trips is also growing significantly. Demand in the premium classes especially remains strong.
In the second quarter, capacity is expected to increase to around 82 percent of the pre-crisis level. Based on the current booking situation, the company expects yields in this period to be up to 25 percent higher than in 2019. Adjusted EBIT in the second quarter of 2023 is thus expected to be higher than the second quarter result of 2019, which amounted to 754 million euros.
For the full year 2023, the Lufthansa Group still expects an average passenger airline capacity of around 85 to 90 percent compared to 2019.
For the full year, the company confirms its target of achieving a significant year-on-year improvement in Adjusted EBIT. As a result, Lufthansa Group is expected to make significant progress towards achieving the targets set for 2024. In 2024, the company expects to reach an Adjusted EBIT margin of at least 8 percent and an Adjusted ROCE of at least 10 percent.