UPDATE 2-Lufthansa cuts winter timetable as fuel costs soar

Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:48am EDT

Related Topics

* H1 fuel costs up 24.6 pct at 3 bln eur

* H1 operating profit 3 mln eur vs yr-ago loss of 171 mln

* Sees 2011 fuel costs at 6.4 bln eur vs 6.5 bln previously

* To lift winter capacity by 6 pct vs 12 pct planned

* Shares down 3.4 percent ( Recasts, adds shares, comment)

By Victoria Bryan

FRANKFURT, July 28 (Reuters) - Lufthansa joined other airlines in reporting results battered by high fuel costs, and said capacity would not grow as quickly as previously planned over the winter.

Fuel costs soared 24.6 pct to 3 billion euros ($4.3 billion) in the first half, Lufthansa said in its interim report on Thursday.

However, it has reduced its forecast for expected fuel expense in 2011 by 100 million euros to 6.4 billion, according to presentation slides.

While air travel has picked up after the 2008/2009 global downturn, fuel costs, political unrest and a drop in traffic caused by the March 11 Japanese earthquake and tsunami are causing headaches for airlines across the world.

Late on Wednesday Air France-KLM posted a 212 million euro quarterly net loss, while over in the U.S., shares in Delta Air Lines fell to a year low after it said fuel costs grew at a higher rate than revenue.

Shares in Lufthansa were down 3.4 percent at 0749 GMT, among the biggest fallers on the blue-chip DAX index . Air-France plummeted 8.5 percent in Paris.

Deutsche Bank analyst Michael Kuhn said Lufthansa's first-half results fell short of his and consensus expectations.

"We think it will be crucial how the company comments on what has impacted the second quarter, and how those factors are expected to develop in H2," he wrote in a note.

Lufthansa said late Wednesday it had scraped a small operating profit of 3 million euros in the first half of the year and confirmed guidance for a rise in 2011 revenue and operating profit.

On Thursday it promised "extensive restructuring, where necessary" as it reported that UK airline BMI is unlikely to improve its operating result this year.

"Demand on the Japanese routes has begun to recover, which we see as grounds for optimism," it said.

The company said it would increase capacity on its winter timetable by 6 percent, rather than 12 percent, by postponing new routes, cutting back flights, and as a result of discontinuing Lufthansa Italia.

($1 = 0.695 Euros)

(Editing by David Hulmes)

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