First quarter results 2022: Austrian Airlines starts summer with steep booking increases

5 May 2022 / 021e

  • Corona easings across Europe make for a comeback of full planes and wanderlust: millions of new bookings for spring and summer
  • First quarter of 2022 still impacted by omicron restrictions: Adjusted EBIT at EUR -109 million
  • Passenger development and load factor with strong upward trend compared to 2021
  • Since March, Austrian Airlines fuels 1,500 tons of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for the first time in Austria
  • CCO Michael Trestl: “Our guests are booking long-term again – summer holiday flights are already filling up and business travel is also on the rise again.”
  • COO Francesco Sciortino: “The entire Austrian team is ready! With an expanded Premium Economy Class and more than 150 recently recruited cabin staff, we are ready for take-off into a summer in full operation.”

Corona easings pave the runway for full planes

The traditionally weakest quarter at the start of 2022 was initially marked by the highest Corona infection numbers to date and a still-thin flight schedule.  In addition to Omicron restrictions, the sharp rise in fuel prices in the first months of the year again led to a negative result in Austrian Airlines’ balance sheet. In March, the announcement of large-scale Corona easings in Austria and throughout Europe brought an unparalleled booking boom since the beginning of the pandemic. For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, Austrian Airlines passengers show their wanderlust by booking long-term again. “We are currently recording six-figure booking numbers every week for the bank holidays in May and June as well as for the summer holidays. Our guests are booking long-term again – summer holiday flights are already filling up and business travel is also on the rise again. This dynamic makes us very confident!”, says CCO Michael Trestl.

The results in detail

In the first quarter of 2022, revenue at Austrian Airlines was at EUR 201 million and thus more than three times higher than in the previous year (Q1 2021: EUR 61 million), but still a third lower than in the same period of 2020 (Q1 2020: EUR 287 million), when the Corona pandemic started. The flag carrier’s total operating revenue showed a similar trend by increasing by 220 percent, compared to 2021, to 208 EUR million (Q1 2021: EUR 65 million, Q1 2020: EUR 304 million). Total operating expenses increased by 87 percent to EUR 316 million euros (Q1 2021: EUR 169 million, Q1 2020: EUR 440 million). Compared to 2021, Adjusted EBIT, which does not include valuation gains or losses from aircraft sales, deteriorated slightly (-5%) to EUR -109 million (Q1 2021: EUR -105 million), partly due to corona related travel restrictions and increased fuel costs. However, adjusted EBIT improved by 20 percent compared to 2020 (Q1 2020: EUR -136 million). Austrian Airlines’ liquidity remains at a very high level. The next regular loan installment of EUR 30 million will be repaid at the end of the second quarter.

In the first quarter of the year, Austrian Airlines flew 1.1 million passengers – almost a fourfold increase compared to 2021 (Q1 2021: 308,000). At 3.3 billion, available seat kilometers also increased sharply (Q1 2021: 831,000) and approached the figures of the first quarter of 2020 (4.5 billion). The national flag carrier’s seat load factor was at 63.2 percent and thus 10.6 percentage points higher than in 2021 (Q1 2021: 52.5%) and 5 percentage points lower than in 2020 (Q1 2020: 68.2%).

Millions of new bookings show return to long-term travel planning

At the end of the first quarter, the easings of many corona-related restrictions in many parts of Europe and around the world led to millions of new bookings. The return to long-term travel planning for the summer months is particularly pleasing. For flights in the months of April to September, incoming bookings at Austrian Airlines are currently almost four times higher than in the previous year. The national flag carrier prepares for full planes this summer with a 20 percent larger offer to European holiday destinations, compared to 2019, and new cabin staff. Furthermore, bookings for North Atlantic destinations, including Los Angeles back in the route network, are also on the rise for the bank holidays in May and June, the summer holidays and beyond.

Austrian fuels Sustainable Aviation Fuel for the first time

Since March 2022, Austrian Airlines is the first Austrian airline to fuel its aircraft with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) at Vienna Airport. A total of 1,500 tons of SAF is produced regionally by OMV at the Schwechat refinery from Austrian used cooking oil and fed directly into the refueling system at Vienna Airport. The use of SAF in Austrian Airlines’ flight operations is one of the biggest levers to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

New challenges and old ones that remain

The current price increase for kerosene poses major challenges for the entire aviation industry. While there is a strong upwind in the tourism segment, the upward trend in business travel is somewhat flatter, but demand for additional comfort is increasingly rising. To meet this development, Austrian Airlines almost doubled the Premium Economy Class on its entire B767 fleet to offer extra comfort to even more passengers. “The entire Austrian team is ready! With an expanded Premium Economy Class and more than 150 recently recruited cabin staff, we are ready for take-off into a summer in full operation”, says COO Francesco Sciortino.

Overview of key facts and figures frist quarter 2022:

 1-3 20221-3 20211-3 2020Change YOY 2021Change YOY 2019
Revenue in € million20161287 +230 %-30 %
Adj. total operating revenue in € million20865304 +220 %-32 %
Adj. total operating expenditures in € million316169440+87 %-28 %
Adjusted EBIT in € million-109-104-136-5 %+20 %
EBIT in € million-110-105-197-5 %+44 %
Passengers in thousands1,1343081,933+268 %-41 %
Available seat kilometers (ASK) in millions  3,3138314,521          +299 %-27 %
Capacity utilization (passenger load factor) in %63.252.668.2 +10.6 pp-5 pp
Number of flights13,3455,42622,727+146 %-41 %
Fleet size (fleet in operation)617784             -16-23
Regularity of operation99.2 %99.3 %95.2 %-0.1 pp+4 pp
Punctuality on departure 91.1 %81.4 % 88.1 %+9.7 pp+3 pp
Punctuality on arrival 92.3 % 84.4 % 88.6 %          +7.9 pp+3.7 pp