LOT Polish Airlines (Warsaw) is back in the black, producing its first profit in seven years. The airline issued this statement:
LOT ended 2014 in the black. With more than PLN 99 million ($26 million) profit on its core business of flying, LOT earned 40 percent more than it planned. This is the company’s first profit in seven years.
LOT was supposed to end 2014 with PLN 70 million ($19 million) profit on its core business but it is almost 30 million ($8 million) above the Restructuring Plan assumptions and 103 million ($27 million) more than in 2013.
“The company is steadily improving its situation, stabilizing its financial condition and getting ready for rapid growth in the next year,” said Sebastian Mikosz, CEO, LOT Polish Airlines. “The positive result on the core business, which is a key indicator of our company’s health, is of utmost importance since it has been achieved regardless of the compensation measures required by the European Commission.”
“Because of the public aid received, we had to cut the number of flights by almost eight percent in 2014, compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, we carried two percent more passengers and increased the revenue in comparison with 2013, while keeping a similar cost level,” continued Mikosz.
The company owes its positive results to consistent changes and initiatives included in the Restructuring Plan. Most of them were added as early as in 2013, but 2014 was the first full year to have seen the results. LOT continues to modernize and expand its sales channels, including mobile solutions. The quality of service is gradually improving. New products are being added to address new passenger groups in the market.
The new philosophy of building a network has also paid off. LOT has increased its connecting capacities by as much as over 40 percent in its Warsaw hub. Such connecting options are among the reasons why LOT has become the first choice for a constantly growing number of passengers from Poland as well as the entire Eastern and Central Europe region.
2014 was also the first year to have seen the Dreamliner effect since it was only in the entire past year that all long-haul flights were operated exclusively with these aircraft. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is not only popular among passengers but provides tangible benefits, such as fuel savings. LOT currently operates six Dreamliners on its schedule network, leases them to other airlines and operates long-haul charter flights in the winter season. An efficient use of the Dreamliner fleet is included in the Restructuring Plan.
“The results in 2014 show we can operate effectively in this very competitive market, and there is a place for such a carrier as LOT,” added Mikosz. “However, we have to remember that this is just the first step of transformation and more challenges are ahead. This year, we are bound to repeat the financial success, as it is our goal to achieve sustained profitability and to move from restructuring to a rapid growth of the company.”
LOT has also improved other indicators. The EBITDA — indicator of company performance which determines the cash flow generating ability — also improved. EBITDA in 2014, is PLN 291 million ($77 million), compared to 2013 PLN 156 million ($41 million) and 2012 a minus PLN 346 million ($91 million).
The normalized net profit, i.e. without one-offs and accounting effects, is also positive and amounts nearly to PLN 36 million ($9.5 million). Taking into account the one-offs and accounting effects, related to the increase of currency exchanging rates (mainly of the dollar), a minus appears at the net result at the level of 263.4 million ($70 million). This is only an artificial accounting record having no effect on the actual financial health of the company. It is because the relationship between LOT’s earnings and spending in foreign currencies is fairly in balance. Therefore, no currency is in fact exchanged, but only the amounts are booked in PLN according to the valid standards. The net profit in the previous year amounted to PLN 26 million ($7 million). The normalized net profit in 2013 was a minus 67 million ($18 million).
Owing to the consistent improvement of its financial condition, LOT postponed and considerably reduced by as much as two thirds, the money it received from the second state aid tranche. At the end of 2014, LOT received PLN 127 million ($34 million.). It should be emphasized that the amount of state aid has no effect on the result.
The company’s growth policy for 2016 is underway. It will be announced in the next few months new short- and long-haul destinations. LOT will start flying on those routes at the beginning of the next year when the Restructuring Plan is formally ended.
Copyright Photo: SPA/AirlinersGallery.com. The airline attributes the turnaround to its game changing six Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners and its restructuring program as the main reasons for the change in fortunes.