Belfast Telegraph

Aer Lingus profits down €2m

Higher fuel prices and airport charges clip carrier's wings Aer Lingus is confident the company's recovery plan is on track

By Margaret Canning and Sarah Stack

Higher fuel prices and airport charges saw Aer Lingus's operating profit drop by more than €2m (£1.6m) last year.

The carrier's operating profit was €49.1m (£41.6m) in 2011, down from €52.5m (£44.4m) in 2010.

However, the part-owned State airline said the annual results were better than anticipated, primarily due to stronger yields.

Total revenue was up 6% compared with 2010, with passenger numbers up by 1.8% and total yield per passenger up by 4.8%.

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller said he was pleased with the annual report.

"This is the second consecutive year of good profitability under our new strategy and demonstrates the success of the changes we have made to our business over the past two years," he said.

"While the 2011 operating result was lower than that reported for 2010, it was significantly ahead of our expectations at the start of 2011 and was achieved against a difficult backdrop of non-controllable fuel price inflation, increased airport charges and challenging demand conditions in our primary markets."

Meanwhile, the carrier said it was pleased with its performance in Belfast.

"We are very happy with performance in Belfast, where we've been operating for four years," said Declan Kearney, head of public affairs for Aer Lingus.

He said the airline was "very conscious of concerns in the Northern Ireland business community around security of connectivity".

Mr Kearney said the airline ran three flights a day and was keen to expand its service. "We couldn't put a number on it but we are keen to expand."

Mr Mueller said his focus was to consolidate the 2010 turnaround.

The annual report showed the balance sheet remains robust, with gross cash of €894.8m (£757m) as at December 31 2011.

The Irish government is expected to sell its remaining 25% stake in the airline when conditions are more favourable.

25

Percentage stake in the airline owned by the Irish government

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