Lufthansa starts payments as profits take flight in 2015

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Frankfurt / AFP

German airline Lufthansa said on Thursday it will resume dividend payments to shareholders after profits soared in 2015, helped by low oil prices, and are set to increase again this year.
Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr said that despite an “emotionally challenging year” due to the Germanwings air crash and the burden of repeated strike action by pilots and cabin crew, “2015 was a good year in economic terms.”
Net profit soared to 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in 2015, from just 55 million euros a year earlier.
Underlying or operating profit grew by 55.2 percent to 1.8 billion euros and revenues were up 6.8 percent at 32.1 billion euros. “The doubling in the passenger airlines’ result is not only due to lower fuel costs, but also to the favourable developments in our passenger volumes and to our capacity discipline,” CEO Spohr said.
“The result also confirms that our focus on quality in both the premium and the point-to-point segment is the right approach. And the very good results from Lufthansa Technik and LSG Sky Chefs further affirm that the Lufthansa group is on the right track.”The management board will propose a dividend payment of 0.50 euros per share for 2015 after no dividend was paid for 2014. “Our dividend policy is clear and comprehensible,” said chief financial officer Simone Menne. “We are committed to making continuous dividend payments to our shareholders in the years ahead.”
Looking to the current year, Spohr said “we are aiming to increase our result for the Lufthansa group again.”
Underlying earnings were expected to “increase slightly,” he said. The forecast did not, however, include any earnings impact from possible strikes, Spohr added. Once again, the group’s passenger airlines “are expected to be prime drivers of such earnings growth.”
In addition to its own Lufthansa brand, the group owns Swiss and Austrian Airlines and the low-cost carriers Eurowings and Germanwings. Low oil prices will help reduce costs, providing “a welcome tailwind for our 2016 results,” said CFO Menne.
“But cost discipline remains one of our paramount tasks. We must lower the unit costs at our hub airlines. This is and remains the key to maintain our competitiveness,” she said.

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