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Business

Lufthansa surprises amid airline industry gloom

Lufthansa has nearly made up for huge first-quarter losses, surprising analysts with positive figures for the second quarter in both operating profit and revenue. But major restructuring costs still weigh on net profits.

Germany's national carrier logged an operating profit of 361 million euros ($442.2 million) in the second quarter of 2012 - a rise by 27.6 percent compared with the previous quarter.

Revenues grew by more than six percent to 7.89 billion euros, Lufthansa said Thursday, as passenger numbers rose slightly to 27.5 million between April and June.

In addition, earnings were supported by a 26 million euro profit made by Austrian Airlines in the first half of 2012, Lufthansa's ailing subsidiary which still posted a net loss of 64 million euros a year earlier.

However, net profits of Lufthansa Group slumped 24 percent to 229 million euros, compared with the same period a year ago. This was the result of a cost-cutting program, started this year and aimed at improving the airline's operating profit by 1.5 billion euros by the end of 2014.

Analysts were surprised by the result, as they had predicted a net profit of just about 124 million euros in a poll carried out by Dow Jones Newswire.

Shares in Lufthansa Group - which includes Austrian Airlines and Swiss, as well as stakes in Brussels Airlines and US carrier JetBlue - rose by 3 percent in early trading in Frankfurt Thursday.

Lufthansa said it would maintain its cautious 2012 outlook, expecting increases in revenue and operating profit in the "mid three-digit million area."

In May, Lufthansa said it would cut about 3,500 administrative jobs, making up for about one third of the savings program.

"The positive earnings performance and the lower unit costs in the second quarter give us confidence that it is worth the effort," Chief Financial Officer Simone Menne said in a statement.

uhe/mz (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)

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