AUA reports improved numbers after buyout

News Brief: Oct. 2009

The slumping Austrian Airlines (AUA) announced improved August passenger numbers in the wake of its mid-September purchase by German carrier Lufthansa.

According to the airline, passenger numbers fell at a slower rate last month than in the rest of 2009. From January to July, the average AUA flight was filled to 73.6 percent capacity. In August, that figure was 81.8 percent, which still represents a decline from last year, but is nonetheless an encouraging sign for the ailing carrier.

The report comes just weeks after AUA laid off 150 ground-based personnel on Sept. 1. The cuts were part of a larger cost-saving program which aims to reduce the airline’s total workforce from slightly less than 7,700 to 6,500 over the next year. Company officials say these cuts were the result of the economic crisis and were not related to the Lufthansa buy-out.

AUA co-chiefs Andreas Bierwirth and Peter Malanik cautioned that the numbers do not constitute a trend just yet, but said they were “very satisfied” with the figures, according to a report in the Austrian Times.

Lufthansa purchased AUA in a deal finalized Sept. 3. At a ceremony formalizing the agreement, Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber said that his goal was to have AUA back in the black within one year. In an industry that has proven hard on smaller airlines, Lufthansa has grown to be Europe’s largest air travel provider, anticipating over 100 million passengers in 2009.

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