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Aer Lingus Share Price Falls As Operating Loss Widens

Aer Lingus Group Plc. (LON:AERL), Ireland’s national airline, on Thursday reported that first quarter revenue rose by 3.3 percent year on year but operating loss widened due to higher fuel, airport and one-off costs, together with slightly weaker trading on UK routes. The Aer Lingus share price opened at €1.35 in London, 4.76 percent lower than its close at €1.42 on Wednesday.

Aer Lingus said in an unaudited interim management statement total passenger numbers (including Aer Lingus Regional) increased by 2.2 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. Leisure revenue and leisure passenger numbers were boosted by the Easter bank holiday falling in the quarter, in contrast with last year, when Easter came in April.
Aer Lingus’ operating loss, before exceptional items, was €45.5 million in the first quarter of 2013, up €9.4 million year-on-year. The company said that the increase in operating loss had been expected, attributing it to “a number of number of significant year-on-year changes to the Aer Lingus business”, including changes to the company’s underlying route network and aircraft mix which resulted in a seven percent decrease in short haul capacity year on year.

The group’s short haul fare revenue of €149.5 million in the first quarter was comparable with the corresponding period last year, while short haul fare revenue per seat increased by 3.3 percent to €58.49. Average short haul fare yield per passenger increased by 0.9 percent to €86.72. Total short haul flown passengers in the quarter, including the group’s regional services, rose by 1.7 percent, the company said.

Long haul fare revenue rose to €60.3 million, up 14.4 percent on the year. Average long haul fare yield per passenger and fare revenue per seat both increased in the quarter – by 5.6 percent to €333.15 and 10.4 percent to €246.53 respectively.
Operating expenses increased by 6.1 percent year on year to €305.2 million in the quarter, reflecting higher fuel and airport costs as well as other operating costs such as the €3.6 million of costs associated with the launch of the Virgin wet-lease operation. In December last year, Aer Lingus entered into a wet-lease agreement with Virgin Atlantic for the operation of domestic UK routes from London Heathrow to Manchester, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. These services started on March 31, 2013.

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“Trends identified in Q1 2013 including higher airport charges, the strength of long haul and softness in GBP and our UK market have the potential to remain a feature for the rest of the year. On that basis, we currently expect 2013 operating profit, before exceptional items, to be broadly in line with last year,’ CEO Christoph Mueller said in the interim management statement.
**The Aer Lingus Share Price was €1.37.13 as of 9.48 GMT, 25.04.2013**

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Farquar McIntosh
Farquar McIntosh began his career in metals trading, working for an established operator before going freelance as he still earns his crust as well as contributing to iNVEZZ's journalist team.

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