The Lufthansa Group has generated an operating profit in the third quarter for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, owing to the easing of travel restrictions and a strong demand for air travel in the summer months.

The group, which owns Lufthansa, Eurowings, Swiss, Brussels Airlines and Austrian Airlines, saw capacity (measured in passenger-kilometres) reach 50 per cent of the pre-crisis level of 2019 in the third quarter of 2021 – a figure that is about twice as high as in the second quarter.

The airlines carried 19.6 million passengers over the months of July, August and September, which represents 46 per cent of the pre-crisis level in the third quarter of 2019.

The company’s third quarter revenue almost doubled to €5.2 billion, and the group reported adjusted earnings before interest and tax of €17 million in the quarter – the prior year saw a loss of €1.3 billion.

The group added that the reopening of long-haul travel has led to a significant increase in bookings, with new bookings reaching around 80 per cent of the pre-crisis level. It said that tickets in premium classes “are particularly in demand” and that a “significant increase in the share of business travel is apparent across all travel classes”.

Since the announcement of the reopening of transatlantic travel, the number of weekly bookings has increased by 51 per cent compared to previous weeks, with New York, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles among the most popular destinations.

Looking ahead, the group “expects demand to develop positively” and is targeting a capacity of over 70 per cent for the full year of 2022 compared to 2019.

Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, commented:

“With rising demand for business travel and a record result of Lufthansa Cargo we have mastered another milestone on our way out of the crisis: We are back to black. We confirm our leading position among the world’s largest airline groups. Now it is a question of continuing on the path of successful change. I would like to thank our customers for their loyalty and trust, and all Lufthansa employees around the world who are contributing with passion and dedication to mastering the current challenges.”

The group also emphasised its commitment to sustainability, aiming to halve its net CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2019 and to achieve a neutral CO2 balance by 2050.

The group will also join the ‘Science Based Target Initiative’ in 2022 to bring the CO2 reduction path in line with the UN Paris Climate Agreement.

To reach such goals, the group states that it will acquire US$250 million worth of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over the next three years.

Spohr added:

“Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. The purchase of synthetic fuel for a quarter of a billion US-Dollars in the coming years is the largest pure sustainability investment in the history of the Lufthansa Group to date. We stand by our responsibility with full conviction and are doing everything we can to make aviation even more sustainable in the future.”