The Lufthansa Group reported a "significant" increase in business travel demand as overall bookings climbed to 80 per cent of 2019 levels by the end of the third quarter.
The group reported €3.9 billion in traffic revenue for the third quarter, more than double the third quarter of 2020, and total revenue nearly doubled to €5.2 billion.
Total capacity in the quarter was about half of pre-Covid-19 levels but double what it was in the second quarter. The group's flights got fuller as capacity increased, with an average load factor of 68.8 per cent, up 17.4 percentage points compared with the second quarter.
The announcement that the US was reopening to European visitors generated a "boom in demand" over the past few weeks, including a strong demand for premium classes, according to the group. Weekly bookings increased by more than 50 per cent compared with previous weeks after the announcement, and transatlantic bookings have returned to 80 per cent of 2019 levels, just as overall bookings have, the group reported. Flights to New York, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles are the most frequently booked.
In the fourth quarter, the group projects capacity will be 60 per cent compared with 2019, increasing to 65 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 and to 80 per cent by the second half of next year.
The Lufthansa Group also announced that it plans to spend $250 million on sustainable aviation fuel over the next three years, which group chairman and CEO Carsten Spohr said "is the largest purse sustainability investment in the history of the Lufthansa Group to date".
Like Air France-KLM recently announced, the group is participating with the United Nations' Science-Based Target initiative to validate its plans to halve net carbon emissions compared with 2019 levels by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050. The validation with the initiative will happen next year, according to Lufthansa.
The group reported a net loss of €72 million for the third quarter, compared with a net loss of nearly €2 billion in the third quarter of 2020. Earnings before interest and taxes was €17 million – €272 million excluding restructuring costs – marking the group's first operating profit since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, "another milestone on our way out of the crisis", according to Spohr.