Lufthansa: €1 billion loss in first quarter

German airline giant Lufthansa on Thursday posted a first-quarter net loss of €1 billion ($1.2 billion) as the COVID pandemic continues to keep passengers on the ground worldwide.

Although troubling for the company, the net loss is smaller than the one of €2.1 billion suffered over the same period in 2020, owing to cost-cutting measures taken in the meantime.

The airline’s freight sector, Lufthansa Cargo, made a record operating profit once again, however, bringing in €314 million. This results from the fact that freight prices have risen as transport capacity has declined amid the pandemic. Lufthansa Technik, which offers maintenance services in Germany and abroad, also made a profit of €16 million, mainly on the back of operations in the US and Asia.

The airline has reduced its running costs largely by cutting its workforce by almost a fifth compared with last year.

Lufthansa said it expected passenger numbers to increase gradually in April-June and for air travel to pick up again markedly in the second half of the year, particularly in view of EU plans to allow trans-Atlantic travel for visitors from the US who have been vaccinated.

Despite this, the group said on Thursday it expected to fly this at only about 40% of its pre-pandemic capacity, at the lowest end of the 40%-50% prognosis made just two months ago.

The airline received a €9-billion bailout from Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland last year as the pandemic ravaged the aviation industry across the world.

The Lufthansa Group includes Brussels, Austrian and Swiss Airlines.

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