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Lufthansa Has Posted A Q1 415 Million Euros Loss

Wed May 14, 2003 8:16 pm

Lufthansa has posted a 415 million euros ($478 million) operating loss for the first quarter and says it expects a full-year operating loss.

A year ago Europe's third biggest airline by passenger numbers posted an operating profit of 12 million euros ($13.8 million). Since then conflict in the Middle East and SARS have hit the industry.

The loss, announced Wednesday, was bigger than expected. A Reuters poll of analysts forecast a first-quarter operating loss of 299 million euros ($345 million) and sales of 3.67 billion euros ($4.23 billion).

The airline said first quarter sales fell 4.6 percent to 3.7 billion euros ($4.3 billion). The full year result would depend on developments in the SARS outbreak, the sluggish global economy and tensions in the Middle East, added Lufthansa.

But it said it was in a "stable financial position" and that net debt in the first quarter was reduced to one billion euros.

The German operator said earlier this week its passenger traffic in April fell 2.8 percent year-on-year, with traffic to the Asia Pacific region down nearly 20 percent.

Lufthansa has cut staff working hours and grounded planes to offset the slump in demand.

In March Lufthansa forecast lower 2003 earnings and said the war in Iraq would extend the crisis plaguing the airline industry since the September 2001 attacks on the United States.

"Our assessment after September 11 has been proven right: the crisis will not be overcome within one year," Chief Executive Juergen Weber told a news conference then.