Air France-KLM reports its second quarter results

Air France-KLM made this report:

July 31, 2019

RESULTS AS AT JUNE 30, 2019

Increased operating result and improved passenger unit revenue

SECOND QUARTER 2019

  • Passenger growth +5.1% and load factor +1.3 point.
  • Passenger unit revenue up by 0.8%.
  • Unit costs decrease by -2.3% at constant currency and fuel.
  • Operating result at 400 million euros, up 54 millions euros compared to the second quarter 2018 hit by Air France strikes1, and reflecting unit cost improvement partly offset by an increased fuel bill.
  • Further reduction in Group net debt, down 466 million euros to 5.7 billion euros and Net debt/EBITDA ratio at 1.4x, an improvement of -0.1pt compared to 31 December 2018.

OUTLOOK 2019

  • Based on the current data for the Passenger network:
    • Long-haul forward booking load factors from August to December are on average ahead compared to last year.
    • Network passenger unit revenue at constant currency expected to be stable versus last year for the third quarter 2019.
  • Full year guidance update:
    • The Group will pursue initiatives to reduce unit costs, with a targeted 2019 reduction of between -1% and 0% at constant currency and fuel price.
    • The 2019 fuel bill is expected to increase by 550 million euros compared to 2018 to 5.5 billion euros, based on the forward curve of 26 July 2019.
    • Net debt/ EBITDA ratio below 1.5x.

Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM Group, said: “In a challenging environment, Air France-KLM Group posted a robust second quarter. The slight increase in passenger unit revenue that we had anticipated, together with continued execution in unit cost reduction, enabled us to more than offset rising fuel costs. These elements, combined with satisfactory long-haul forward booking trends lead us to confirm our guidance for 2019. At the same time, we continue to implement our strategic vision focused on reducing costs and making our Group more robust in the very competitive marketplace in Europe. We have also made key decisions on the renewal of our fleet to transition to cleaner aircraft in order to support a more environmentally responsible operation, including the order of sixty Airbus A220s for short- and medium-haul and the accelerated phasing out of ten Airbus A380 to be replaced by more modern fuel efficient aircraft.”

Air France-KLM Group Second Quarter First half
2019 Change1 2019 Change1
Passengers (thousands) 27,800 +5.1% 50,474 +4.2%
Passenger Unit revenue per ASK2 (€ cts) 6.75 +0.8% 6.48 -0.4%
Operating result (€m) 400 +54 97 -131
Net income – Group part (€m) 80 -30 -240 -81
Adj. operating free cash flow (€m) 110 +111 351 +210
Net debt at end of period (€m) 5,698 -466

Second quarter 2019 business review 

Network: Solid revenue growth and increase in operating result

Network Second Quarter First Half
2019 Change Change
constant currency
2019 Change Change
constant currency
Capacity (ASK m) 75,680 +3.9%   145,440 +3.2%
Total revenues (€m) 6,016 +5.6% +3.9% 11,191 +3.8% +2.6%
Scheduled revenues (€m) 5,708 +5.8% +4.0% 10,601 +3.6% +2.3%
Operating result (€m) 291 +55 +77 12 -138 -68

Second quarter 2019 combined Passenger and Cargo revenues increased by 3.9% at constant currency to 6.0 billion euros, for capacity growth of 3.9%. The operating result amounted to 291 million euros, a 77 million euro increase at constant currency compared to last year, with the non-fuel unit cost improvement partly offset by a higher fuel bill.

Passenger network: Long-haul driving the improvement of unit revenue as anticipated

  Second Quarter First Half
Passenger network 2019 Change Change
constant currency
2019 Change Change
constant currency
Passengers (thousands) 22,906 +4.8%   42,651 +3.7%  
Capacity (ASK m) 75,680 +3.9% 145,439 +3.2%
Traffic (RPK m) 67,020 +5.7% 127,241 +3.8%
Load factor 88.6% +1.5 pt 87.5% +0.6 pt
Total passenger revenues (€m) 5,482 +6.4% +4.8% 10,110 +4.2% +3.2%
Scheduled passenger revenues (€m) 5,254 +6.6% +4.8% 9,674 +4.2% +2.9%
Unit revenue per ASK (€ cts) 6.94 +2.6% +0.9% 6.65 +1.0% -0.2%

Second quarter 2019 capacity increased by 3.9%, mainly driven by the South American, North Atlantic and Asian networks, with respective growth of 7.8%, 6.7% and 4.0%.
Taking into account a positive calendar effect from the Easter shift, the passenger network posted a positive unit revenue of +0.9% at constant currency.

The industry capacity growth has been lower in North America, Caribbean & Indian Ocean and Middle East network in comparison to previous year. The long-haul network generated positive load-factors and yields compared to last year in all networks except in the Latin American network:

  • The North American network posted positive unit revenue at +2.6% compared to last year, with the strength driven in particular by US points of sale.
  • The Asian network unit revenue was up 3.9% in the second quarter, driven by the continuing strength of the Japanese network, partly offset by some competitive pressure on the Chinese network.
  • The Caribbean & Indian Ocean network posted a strong result with the unit revenue +4.7%, driven by leisure demand.
  • The Africa & Middle East network saw a substantial unit revenue improvement of 8.7%, underpinned by positive results from the West African networks and network rationalizations in the Middle East.
  • The unit revenue pressure in the Latin American network remains ongoing for the time-being due to the current economic context in Argentina and Brazil.

The medium-haul network showed a mixed picture with a positive performance for the medium-haul hubs with the unit revenue +0.2% and, as anticipated, pressure in the medium-haul point-to-point network with unit revenue down -9.1%.
 

Cargo network: Unit revenue impacted by a challenging airfreight market

  Second Quarter First Half
Cargo business 2019 Change Change
constant currency
2019 Change Change
constant currency
Tons (thousands) 279 +1.5%   549 +0.7%  
Capacity (ATK m) 3,630 +2.8% 7,092 +2.1%
Traffic (RTK m) 2,122 +1.2% 4,168 +0.9%
Load factor 58.5% -0.9 pt 58.8% -0.7 pt
Total Cargo revenues (€m) 534 -1.7% -4.1% 1,081 -0.5% -2.7%
Scheduled cargo revenues (€m) 454 -2.8% -5.2% 927 -1.7% -3.9%
Unit revenue per ATK (€ cts ) 12.54 -5.1% -7.5% 13.09 -3.6% -5.7%

Negative market dynamics and continued higher industry capacity put pressure on the unit revenue during the second quarter 2019. After two strong years, renewed overcapacity in North America and Asia is putting pressure on freight rates, resulting in unit revenue down -7.5% at constant currency.
The Group’s Cargo strategy is focused on maintaining and increasing load factors where possible and taking a pro-active approach to new opportunities.

Transavia: High capacity growth and positive unit revenue

  Second Quarter First Half
Transavia 2019 Change 2019 Change
Passengers (thousands) 4,894 +6.7% 7,823 +7.0%
Capacity (ASK m) 9,527 +9.2% 15,353 +10.0%
Traffic (RPK m) 8,754 +9.1% 14,122 +10.1%
Load factor 91.9% -0.1 pt 92.0% +0.0 pt
Total passenger revenues (€m) 500 +10.4% 748 +8.7%
Unit revenue per ASK (€ cts) 5.24 +1.3% 4.83 -0.4%
Unit cost per ASK (€ cts) 4.70 +5.1% 4.95 +2.6%
Operating result (€m) 52 -9 -19 -22

Strong capacity growth of 9.2% in the second quarter 2019. The unit revenue was up by 1.3% compared to last year, supported by the Easter shift, strong demand throughout the network and a good ancillary revenue performance.
The second quarter 2019 operating margin stands at a level of 10.4%, with an absolute operating result of 52 million euros, 9 million euros down compared to last year explained by fuel price and currency headwinds.

Maintenance: Strong third-party revenue growth and margin improvement

  Second Quarter First Half
Maintenance 2019 Change Change
constant currency
2019 Change Change
constant currency
Total revenues (€m) 1,120 +11.2% 2,290 +10.0%
Third-party revenues (€m) 527 +11.9% +5.0% 1,081 +14.9% +7.6%
Operating result  (€m) 55 +9 +1 102 +30 +18
Operating margin (%) 4.9% +0.3 pt -0.2 pt 4.5% +1.0 pt +0.6 pt

Maintenance revenues increased compared to last year with third-party revenues up by 11.9% and 5.0% at constant currency, a continuation of the growth trend underpinned by the inflow of new contracts. The Maintenance order book stood at 11.6 billion dollars at 30 June 2019, an increase of 0.2 billion dollars compared to 31 December 2018.
The operating margin expressed as a percentage of total revenues stood at 4.9%, an increase of 0.3 point primarily driven by the components activity.

Air France-KLM Group: Operating result at €400 million with positive passenger unit revenue and unit cost improvement

  Second Quarter First half
  2019 Change Change
constant currency
2019 Change Change
constant currency
Capacity (ASK m) 85,207 +4.5%   160,793 +3.8%
Traffic (RPK m) 75,774 +6.1%   141,363 +4.4%  
Passenger unit revenue per ASK (€ cts)  6.75 +2.4% +0.8% 6.48 +0.8% -0.4%
Group unit revenue per ASK (€ cts)  7.28 +1.6% +0.0%  7.05 +0.2% -1.0%
Group unit cost per ASK (€ cts) at constant fuel  6.82 -0.3% -2.3% 6.99 +0.4% -1.4%
Revenues (€m) 7,050 +6.4% +4.5% 13,036 +4.9% +3.3%
EBITDA (€m) 1,147 +98 +114 1,571 -99 -42
Operating result (€m) 400 +54 +72 97 -131 -69
Operating margin (%) 5.7% +0.5 pt +0.8 pt 0.7% -1.1 pt -0.6 pt
Net income – Group part (€m) 80 -30   -240 -81  

In the second quarter 2019, the Air France-KLM Group posted an operating result of 400 million euros, up 54 million euros compared to last year, which was impacted by the Air France strike for 260 million euros.

Compared to last year, the Group’s unit revenue was stable, the positive passenger unit revenue impact of 53 million euros being offset by a -54 million euro negative impact from Cargo.

The fuel bill including hedging amounted to 1,404 million euros for the second quarter 2019, up 220 million euros. This increase is explained mainly by a lower hedge gain for the second quarter 2019 (gain of 56 million euros compared to 212 million euro last year), and a negative currency effect on the fuel bill of 89 million euros due to a stronger dollar.

Currencies had a positive 123 million euro impact on revenues and a negative 52 million euro effect on costs (ex-fuel) including currency hedging. Together with the 89 million euro fuel currency effect, the net impact of currencies amounted to a negative 18 million euros for the second quarter 2019.

Unit cost down confirming the full year guidance
On a constant currency and fuel price basis, unit costs were down -2.3% in the second quarter 2019. This decrease is supported by the successful execution of cost focus measures in Air France and the high basis of comparaison last year due to the strikes at Air France.
However this was partly offset by higher unit costs at KLM due to the implementation of last year’s labor wage agreements.

Group net employee costs were up 4.6% in the quarter compared to last year, explained by additional hires in response to the capacity growth and the impact of wage agreement implementation for Air France and KLM staff. The average number of FTEs in the second quarter 2019 increased by 1,650 compared to last year, including +700 Pilots and +650 Cabin Crew. However, productivity measured in ASK per FTE increased by 3.1% in the second quarter 2019.

Net debt down, leverage ratio improved slightly further, on track for full year guidance of below 1.5x

  Second Quarter First Half
In € million 2019 Change 2019 Change
Cash flow before change in WCR and Voluntary Departure Plans, continuing operations (€m) 1,096 +175 1,465 +31
Cash out related to Voluntary Departure Plans (€m) -6 +92 -11 +110
Change in Working Capital Requirement (WCR) (€m) -19 -45 787 -46
Net cash flow from operating activities (€m) 1,071 +222 2,241 +95
Net investments before sale & lease-back* (€m) -711 -136 -1,389 +99
Operating free cash flow (€m) 360 +86 852 +194
Reduction of lease debt -250 +25 -501 +16
Adjusted operating free cash flow ** 110 +111 351 +210

* Sum of ‘Purchase of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets’ and ‘Proceeds on disposal of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets’ as presented in the consolidated cash flow statement.

** The “Adjusted operating free cash flow” is operating free cash flow with deduction of the repayment of lease debt.

Positive adjusted operating free cash flow
The Group generated positive adjusted operating free cash flow of 110 million euros, an increase of 111 million euros compared to last year, mainly explained by lower capex in the second quarter 2019 due to a year-on-year shift in the investment-timing pattern.

Leverage on track with full year guidance of <1.5x       

In € million 30 Jun 2019 31 Dec 2018
Net debt 5,698 6,164
EBITDA trailing 12 months 4,118 4,217
Net debt/EBITDA trailing 12 months 1.4 x 1.5 x

The Group reduced its net debt to 5,698 million euros at 30 June 2019 versus 6,164 million euros at 31 December 2018, this 466 million euro reduction being driven by operating free cash flow generation and the repayment of lease debt.
The net debt/EBITDA ratio stood at 1.4x at 30 June 2019, a decrease of 0.1 point compared to 31 December 2018, explained by the reduction in net debt.

Air France improvement explained by last year strike, KLM impacted by fuel

Second Quarter First Half
  2019 Change 2019 Change
Air France Group Operating result (€m) 143 +130 -113 +51
Operating margin (%) 3.3% +3.0 pt -1.4% +0.8 pt
KLM Group Operating result (€m) 258 -70 202 -186
Operating margin (%) 8.9% -2.8 pt 3.8% -3.7 pt

Outlook

The global economic and geopolitical context remains uncertain and the Group operates in a highly competitive marketplace.
Based on the current data for the Passenger network:

  • Long-haul forward booking load factors from August 2019 to December 2019 are on average ahead compared to last year.
  • Network passenger unit revenue at constant currency is expected to be stable compared to last year for the third quarter 2019.

Capacity growth update:

  • With the growth of Transavia France adjusted slightly downwards, Transavia is expected to grow at a sustainable pace of 7% to 9% for full year 2019.
  • Passenger network plan remains unchanged to moderately grow capacity by 2% to 3% for the full year 2019 compared to last year.

Full year guidance update:

  • The Group will pursue initiatives to reduce unit costs1, with a targeted 2019 reduction of between -1% to 0% at constant currency and fuel price.
  • The 2019 fuel bill is expected to increase by 550 million euros compared to 2018 to 5.5 billion euros2, based on the forward curve of 26 July 2019.
  • The Group plans capital expenditure of 3.2 billion euros for 2019 and is targeting a Net debt/EBITDA ratio of below 1.5x.

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