Air Berlin's 2015 net loss widens to 447 million euros

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Air Berlin’s net loss for 2015 widened 16 percent to 447 million euros as Germany’s second largest airline was hurt by fuel hedging losses and restructuring costs.

Air Berlin, 29-percent owned by Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways, has been trying to reduce debt and return to profit, but is facing tough competition in its home markets from low-cost carriers as well as incumbent Lufthansa.

“We have (Etihad’s) support for the aggressive and radical restructuring of our business. However, there are still hard decisions to be made, which require the clear support of key internal stakeholders,” Chief Executive Officer Stefan Pichler said in a statement.

Among cost cutting measures, the carrier slashed 6 percent of its capacity last year, scrapping routes to Dallas and Abu Dhabi recently.

“Like the other restructuring initiatives, however, this will start to show benefits in our efficiency and cost base in the second half of this year,” said CEO Pichler.

The carrier is due to report full 2015 results on Thursday, followed by first quarter results on May 12.

Etihad earlier on Wednesday reported a consolidated net profit of $103 million for 2015 thanks to strong passenger growth.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger and Victoria Bryan; Editing by Louise Ireland and Andrew Hay