Lufthansa Group says it remains on track for returning to a positive operating cash flow during the course of 2021, despite an “operating cash drain”.
The company said the prerequisite for the return is that the pandemic situation allows for an increase in capacity to around 50% of pre-crisis levels.
In order to adjust to the long-term changes in the market, the group is implementing “extensive restructuring measures” in all business units.
In the fourth quarter, the group expects this to result in non-cash one time and restructuring expenses. Their amount depends primarily on the further progress of negotiations with the social partners, the group said.
“The effects will be booked in adjusted Ebit (earnings before interest and taxes), for which “a significant year-on-year decline is expected”.
The average monthly operating cash drain, excluding changes in working capital, capital expenditure and one-off and restructuring expenses, is expected to be limited to around €350 million in the fourth quarter. Adjusted free cash flow is expected to decline less in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter due to a significantly lower volume of ticket refunds.
Operations for the upcoming winter months will be significantly scaled back. In the winter flight schedule, 125 fewer aircraft will be operating than originally planned. In administrative areas, only activities that are necessary for operations, legally required or related to the necessary restructuring will take place.
“We are now at the beginning of a winter that will be hard and challenging for our industry. We are determined to use the inevitable restructuring to further expand our relative competitive advantage,” said Carsten Spohr, chief executive of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
“We aspire to remain the leading European airline group following the end of the crisis.”
The pandemic continued to have a considerable impact on the group’s earnings development in the third quarter.
However, compared with the second quarter, losses were reduced due to substantial cost savings and an expansion of the flight schedule in the summer months of July and August.
Adjusted Ebit was -€1.3 billion (previous year +€1.3 billion). The average monthly operating cash drain, before changes in working capital and investments, was €200 million.
In the same period, sales fell to €2.7 billion from €10.1 billion.
Operating expenses were cut by 43% in the third quarter compared to the previous year, partly as a result of significantly lower fuel costs, fees and a reduction in other costs that vary based on the extent of flight operations.
Using short-time work for a large portion of the personnel in combination with other measures resulted in a reduction of fixed costs by more than a third.
“Strict cost savings and the expansion of our flight programme enabled us to significantly reduce the operating cash drain in the third quarter, compared to the previous quarter,” said Spohr.
“Lufthansa Cargo also contributed to this with a strong performance.
“We are determined to keep following this path. We want to return to a positive operating cash flow in the course of the coming year.
“In order to achieve this, we are advancing restructuring programmes throughout the group with the aim to make the Lufthansa Group sustainably more efficient in all areas.”