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by Stephan Bauer, Euro am Sonntag
C.arsten Spohr gives the signal to leave. “We’re leaving crisis mode and switching to transformation mode,” says the Lufthansa boss. The occasion: The airline advertises its upcoming capital increase in front of analysts. The annual general meeting in May approved up to 5.5 billion euros, the Cologne-based company probably want to collect around three billion euros.
One of the goals is to stand on your own two feet again and to replace state aid. The federal and state governments made around nine billion euros available to the group during the crisis. The airline’s actual net debt position is significantly lower due to repayments made. After the capital increase, the Kranich-Linie could settle the debt and thus free itself from government regulations. Dividend payments to shareholders or bonus payments to managers would then be possible again.
According to Spohr, the financial situation has improved significantly since the bottom of the crisis. According to the chief pilot, the “cash drain”, the outflow of money from the company, halved to 235 million euros in the first quarter. In the current quarter, the operating business is therefore in positive territory in terms of cash flow.
The group achieved the greater ground clearance through hard braking maneuvers. Investments were cut by two thirds. In 2019, 3.6 billion euros were invested primarily in the aviation park, but Lufthansa will be significantly leaner here in the future. Instead of 800 jets, the carrier wants to get by with around 650. Investments will climb slightly again to 1.5 billion euros from 2021, but this trend will continue. At 2.5 billion euros, it should end in 2023. And: The group is satisfied with significantly fewer models. Prestige jets such as the A380 have already been scrapped, the crane fleet in the “New Normal” is now only recruited from seven models instead of 13.
According to CFO Remco Steenbergen, the focus is on personnel costs; half of the savings of 3.5 billion euros targeted by 2024 should come from here. Around 26,000 jobs have already been cut, saving almost a billion euros. Around 10,000 jobs in Germany should still be lost, through voluntary measures or dismissals.
“Our cost base is the key to our future,” says Spohr, who wants to emerge as the structural winner of the crisis. The savings are intended to raise the operating return to at least eight percent by 2024. However, cost indicators such as the personnel costs per available seat mile are still more than four times as high as for example at the Irish discounter Ryanair – and the cockpit pilots’ union also survived the crisis.
Spohr draws attention to falling incidence values, corona easing and the return of the desire to travel. Holidaymakers booked at short notice, but they booked significantly more again, and business travelers would also come back. By 2023, Spohr expects long-haul routes to rise to pre-crisis levels.
Mute: The foreseeable strong one Dilution of future profits makes investors cautious despite the austerity program. Wait.
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