Germany's Air Berlin blames tourism slump in eastern Med as it stays in the red

FRANKFURT, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Germany’s second biggest airline, Air Berlin, reported another quarterly loss, blaming a slump in tourism to hot spots in the eastern Mediterranean amid security concerns, and said it was unlikely to see a turnaround in the current quarter.

The carrier, which announced in September that it would lease out half its fleet and cut 1,200 jobs under a restructuring plan to try and return to profit, said on Thursday it was banking on an expansion of its long-haul services to the United States.

It said it would expand its long-haul fleet with three additional Airbus A330-200 aircraft in the spring of 2017.

Air Berlin, which has made a net loss in seven of the last eight years, said third-quarter revenues dropped by 5 percent to 1.23 billion euros ($1.34 billion) and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) fell by 31 percent to 55.81 million euros.

The airline, which flies to resorts in Turkey and other holiday destinations in Europe, said a shift to locations such as Spain’s Balearic islands could not offset the decline in travel to eastern Mediterranean resorts in June-September.

Airlines typically make a profit in the third quarter thanks to the summer travel season, and Germany’s biggest airline Lufthansa lifted its 2016 profit guidance after strong September bookings.

“The fourth quarter also won’t bring along an operational turnaround for Air Berlin,” Air Berlin Chief Executive Stefan Pichler said.

As part of its restructuring plan announced in September, Air Berlin will lease up to 40 planes and crew to Lufthansa and spin off its leisure flights, operated by 35 planes, into a separate unit.

“We are optimistic that we will be able to announce the progress of our restructuring in the near future,” Pichler said on Thursday.

$1 = 0.9186 euros Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Susan Fenton