In a further sign of aviation’s post-pandemic bounceback, the German flagship carrier Lufthansa and its subsidiary Brussels Airlines have both announced record summer profits in 2023 third quarter (Q3) reports.
What’s more, the record figures build on records already set in earlier in the year and in 2022, hinting at positive trendlines.
Best year since Air Berlin’s collapse
Lufthansa reported its highest ever Q3 revenue of 10.3 billion euros, up by 8 per cent, with profits of 1.5 billion euros. Its raft of subsidiaries did well too, up 91% on this time last year to 1.4 billion euros.
After receiving state financial aid during the Covid-19 crisis, Lufthansa was able to pay the German government and taxpayers back before schedule, in November 2021. Now, with CEO Carsten Spohr forecasting full-year operating profits of 2.6 billion euros, 2023 could become the airline’s third best result ever and the best year since Air Berlin went bust in the late 2010s.
Brussels Airlines hails investments and “agility”
Brussels Airlines too posted its best quarter ever, up a colossal 41% on an already record summer last year, according to a press release. With adjusted gross earnings of 72 million euros, 2023 should be a landmark year then, in which the airline breaks even in the last quarter. CEP Dorothea von Boxberg hailed the steps towards “sustainable profitability” and highlighted investments the airline has made, including a new Sunrise Lounge, new staff uniforms, new crew room and five brand-new Airbus A320neo aircraft and the tenth long-haul plane to its fleet.
Nina Öwerdieck meanwhile, Brussels Airlines Chief Financial Officer credited, “the entire team for achieving this result. Thanks to the agility of everybody at Brussels Airlines, we can present record results, despite some operational hurdles. I am really proud of all our colleagues for going the extra mile, making sure we could operate as a reliable airline.”
In addition to uncertainties caused by high inflation, the stiff costs of fuel, and the drive towards decarbonisation, other ”hurdles” Öwerdieck refers to during Q3 could include the closure of Niger airspace following the military coup there in late July. This caused mass disruption and costly re-routing of flights between sub-Saharan Africa and Europe.
18,000 flights in three months
Recruitment and retention is another issue being faced by the aviation sector as a whole. The airline is seeking staff across every department and has 240 vacancies to fill right now, as well as needing another 360 new employees at least in 2024.
Despite these challenges, in the period July–September, Brussels Airlines carried 2.4 million passengers on almost 18,000 flights, reaching a passenger-to-capacity factor of 85.2%. 91 destinations across 40 countries were served.