Aer Lingus to break even despite losses

Aer Lingus expects its operating result this year to be “no worse than break even” after a period of losses.

The Irish carrier, which has shed jobs and routes in the past 12 months, reported an improved performance in a trading update for the first half of the year.

Trading in the six months was ahead of the same period in 2009 due to strong revenues, coupled with reduced fuel and staff costs.

“Recent yield performance and long haul load factors have exceeded our expectations and the forward booking profile suggests that this strength should continue for at least the third quarter,” the carrier said.

“As a result, having regard to the committed staff productivity savings and provided there are no significant disruptions to operations such as were caused by the Icelandic volcano, Aer Lingus now expects that its 2010 operating result (before exceptional items) should be no worse than break even.”

Average long haul fares in the first half of the year increased by 17.4% supported by improved business class performance.

The long haul load factor increased by 5.9 points as capacity was reduced by 31.6%.

The average short haul fare per passenger increased by 9%, partly due to changed booking patterns, the company said.

The short haul load factor declined by 1.3 points and short haul capacity was 5.3% below prior year.

“It is too early to provide guidance for 2011,” a statement said. “Further revenue improvements will be very dependent on the overall economic environment.”

The cost base will continue to be addressed to deliver full benefits in 2012.

The airline’s half year results are to be issued on August 24.

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