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Lufthansa profits take off in second quarter

German airline group Lufthansa reports growing profits in the second quarter, as increased passenger demand and lower fuel costs push its business higher into record territory.

Lufthansas net profit between April and June stood at 740 million euros ($875 million), up more than 69 percent from its 2016 second quarter, the company announced Wednesday. Operating, or underlying profit reached 1.0 billion euros on the back of 9.3 billion euros in total revenue.

The group, which also owns airlines like Austrian, Swiss and low-cost Germanwings alongside its namesake brand, said cost-cutting in its passenger business had led to "sustainably higher earnings" over the first half of the year.

Looking ahead to the full year, Lufthansa confirmed its forecast, which it only increased in mid-July, of operating profits adjusted for special items higher than the 1.75 billion euros reported in 2016.

Fighting off rivals

Meanwhile, Lufthansas cargo unit returned to profitability in the first half of the year as it continues to push through its own efficiency plan, while the airlines maintenance and catering divisions continued their growth.

In a statement, the executive board promised "continuous structural improvements" to keep Lufthansa competitive in a world of challenges from low-cost rivals like Ryanair.

The Irish carrier upset Lufthansas plans earlier this year by offering flights from the German carriers home base in Frankfurt and plans to expand the schedule in the autumn. 

In May, Lufthansas CEO Carsten Spohr also confirmed that his company had held talks to buy part of Germanys second largest airline, Air Berlin. Though the rival has already rented aircraft to Lufthansa in a bid to raise cash, so far no sale has taken place.

Air Berlin has booked losses for the past two years; only once booking an annual net profit since 2008. Whether Lufthansa could make a success of the struggling airline is anyones guess.

tr/uhe (Reuters, AFP)
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