Austrian Airlines (Vienna) is planning to add another long-range Boeing 777-200 ER aircraft to expand its international operations. The airline issued this statement:
At its meeting yesterday, the Supervisory Board of Lufthansa approved the Austrian Airlines Group the lease of an additional Boeing 777-200 ER amounting to about EUR 33 million. Austrian Airlines Group will lease the aircraft for a period of about eight years from an internationally renowned leasing company. The aircraft will be transferred to Austrian Airlines Group in spring next year. Before it is put into operation, it will be subject to a maintenance check in Vienna and equipped with the new long-haul cabin including the new modern Economy seats, the new in-flight entertainment system and the new Business Class seats which can be converted into completely flat beds. The new Boeing 777 is scheduled to take off on its first flight in the summer of 2014.
“The expansion of the airline’s long-haul offering is an integral part of the restructuring program launched in 2012“, says Austrian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Jaan Albrecht. “The long-haul market has growth potential, particularly destinations in Asia and North America. In this way we will secure our long-term competitiveness at the Vienna flight hub.”
At present the long-haul fleet of Austrian Airlines Group consists of ten wide-bodied aircraft, of which four are Boeing 777-200 aircraft and six are Boeing 767-300s. On the basis of the new Boeing 777, the Austrian Airlines Group long-haul fleet will be expanded to eleven aircraft. The most recent expansion of the long-haul fleet took place in 2007 when one Boeing 777 with the registration OE-LPD was added. The Boeing 777 is the world’s largest twinjet and has a capacity of over 300 passengers.
The airline is also upgrading its cabins on its long-hail aircraft and issued this statement:
After passing its test flight and subsequently receiving approval from the authorities, the last Boeing 777 to feature the all-new cabin, aircraft with the registration OE-LPB has been put into revenue service. This means the conversion of the Austrian Boeing 777 fleet is now complete.
A total of 1,232 new seats have been fitted in the four Boeing 777 aircraft to have been converted, 192 in Business Class and 1,040 in Economy Class. The new cabin on the Boeing 777 offers space for a total of 308 passengers. Sophisticated seat distribution allows four out of every five Business Class passengers direct access to the aisle.
The national carrier has now converted its entire Boeing 777 fleet, and two of its Boeing 767 aircraft. Some 1.1 million customers fly long-haul with Austrian Airlines every year, on 5,500 flights.
On the financial side, the Austrian Airlines Group reported an operating loss of $73.5 million for the first quarter. The group issued this statement:
The Austrian Airlines Group continued to make progress in its restructuring program, as shown by its financial performance indicators, in spite of a difficult first quarter related to the winter season. In spite of massive cost burdens to the amount of EUR seven million related to the airline ticket tax and fuel price increases, the country’s largest domestic airline succeeded in improving its operating result by EUR 11 million, or 16.4 percent from the prior-year quarter. Accordingly, Austrian Airlines posted an operating loss of minus EUR 56 million in the first quarter of 2013 (Q1 2012: minus EUR 67 million).
“Austrian Airlines had a tough opponent in the likes of Jack Frost. Winter-related flight cancellations and expensive de-icing unnecessarily burdened our efforts to get back into the black”, says Chief Executive Officer Jaan Albrecht. “We are in a substantially better position than in the previous year, though our performance is slightly below our expectations. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that we will already achieve a turnaround this year”, he adds.
Total operating revenues declined slightly in the first quarter of 2013, down 1.3 percent to EUR 458 million (Q1 2012: EUR 464 million). Operating expenditures also fell by 3.2 percent, from EUR 531 million to EUR 514 million, an indication that the cost reduction measures have begun to take hold. On balance, the airline posted an operating loss of minus EUR 56 million in the first three months of the year. There were no one-off effects in the first quarter.
The number of passengers carried by the Austrian Airlines Group decreased by 2.7 percent to approximately 2.3 million in the period January to March 2013, which can be attributed to the streamlined fleet. As a consequence of optimized fine-tuning, capacity utilization (= passenger load factor) improved by 3.3 percentage points to 74 percent.
The number of people employed by the Austrian Airlines Group totaled 6,265 employees as at the quarterly balance sheet date of March 31, 2013 (December 31, 2012: 6,236 employees). In 2012/13, about 150 people were hired for positions as flight attendants, ground crew and pilots.
Austrian Airlines launched a comprehensive restructuring program at the beginning of 2012 designed to enhance the airline’s competitiveness and profitability. The focal point of the initiative was the successful transfer of flight operations to its subsidiary Tyrolean Airways effective July 1, 2012. This step served to bundle flight operations, which in turn enabled the elimination of redundancies in flight administration. A corresponding program is currently being implemented in 2013. The harmonization of the fleet for European flights was successfully concluded at the end of March. Eleven Boeing 737 aircraft were taken out of flight operations, whereas seven Airbus 320 aircraft were added to the fleet.
In October 2012, Austrian Airlines also launched a product campaign on its long-haul flights. All Boeing 767 and 777 aircrafts will be equipped with new, modern cabins, new Economy Class seats, new horizontal full-flat Business Class seats and a new in-flight entertainment system by September 2013. Five aircraft have already been remodeled. Investments related to the redesigning of the interiors of all the aircraft will amount to more than EUR 90 million. Moreover, as of May 17, 2013, Austrian Airlines has added the Chicago route to its destinations. As a result, the number of flight connections to North America has been increased to 26. The forecast for bookings to Chicago show capacity utilization of over 80 percent.
Copyright Photo: Stephen Tornblom. Boeing 777-2Z9 ER OE-LPC (msn 29313) lands at New York (JFK).