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Aer Lingus flies back in the black

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Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller said a new business strategy helped the airline return to profit

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller said a new business strategy helped the airline return to profit

Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller said a new business strategy helped the airline return to profit

Aer Lingus has announced a return to profit last year despite huge disruption to business from the volcanic ash cloud and the crippled economy.

The airline made 30.4 million euro compared with losses of 154 million euro in 2009.

Chief executive Christoph Mueller warned that continued high oil prices will significantly hit profits this year.

"If current fuel prices persist, we expect that 2011 operating profit will be significantly below that of 2010," he said.

Aer Lingus described 2010 as a difficult year, noting that the number of passengers at Dublin Airport fell by 10%, on top of a 13% fall in 2009.

It also said it was forced to stall business as the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud shut down airspace over Europe for weeks and the big freeze and heavy snow in December further disrupted business.

Mr Mueller said success last year was down to a new business strategy, with transatlantic services back in profit and 41 million euro saved by restructuring the workforce.

"This result represents a swing in profitability of 138.6 million euro compared to 2009 and has been achieved despite adverse economic conditions in our core Irish market and significant operational challenges caused by volcanic ash and weather related disruptions in 2010," he said.

He added that he expects the airline to face further tough trading this year as oil prices soar and airport charges impact on demand.

"We do not expect that improvements in yield performance and ongoing cost savings can offset these increased costs."

PA