AUA reduces its losses

Austrian Airlines (AUA) bosses have said they will continue to carry out the ongoing cost-cutting regime as the firm suffered losses of 67 million Euros in the first half of this year.Operative losses reached 93.5 million Euros in the first six months of 2009.AUA co-chiefs Peter Malanik and Andreas Bierwirth announced today (Thurs): “Our measures begin to have effects. We are going the right way but have not reached our goal yet. We will need to remain responsible.”AUA has been carrying out a drastic efficiency programme since being taken over by German aviation giant Lufthansa last September. Hundreds of employees have been laid off and several routes axed, while other connections were reintroduced recently.The firm chiefs said the plan was to reduce losses and overall costs by 250 million Euros this year and to reach a significantly higher turnover.Overall operative revenue edged up by six per cent year on year in the first half of 2010 to 1.025 billion Euros. AUA said it would have been much higher had the European airspace not been shut down for several days due to the ash cloud spread across the continent by erupting Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull.AUA, which has 6,394 employees, had around five million passengers between January and June 2010, up by 8.8 per cent compared to customer figures in the previous year.AUA owner Lufthansa meanwhile managed to reduce its losses by around two thirds year on year. The company headed by Upper Austrian Wolfgang Mayrhuber reported 298 million Euros losses after the first six months of last year. Lufthansa said today it suffered losses of 104 million Euros between January and June 2010.Lufthansa not only took over AUA but also snatched a major stake in British Midland Airways (bmi). Company officials said this acquisition also helped turnover improve from 10.2 billion Euros in the first six months of 2009 to 12.6 billion Euros in the same time span this year.Meanwhile, Mayrhuber hit the headlines by suggesting the world’s top five countries in aviation should team up over standardised security procedures to make travelling more convenient.He told Austrian magazine profil: “It would be ideal if the five biggest countries (in aviation) meet and agree on security and safety regulations.”The Lufthansa CEO, whose contract expires in December, claimed automatic customer identification systems and a system informing airports about all relevant information about frequent fliers would slash waiting time and reduce complications and nuisances.News of shrinking AUA and Lufthansa losses come days after Austrian Social Democratic (SPÖ) Infrastructure Minister Doris Bures rejected calls for a taxation of flight tickets. Bures said the Austrian government had no intention of introducing such a levy, adding that a European regulation would “make sense to avoid distortions of competition”.Bures was pressed to give a statement after the German government revealed plans to charge tickets from next year to force aviation firms into doing their bit to help restore the state budget crippled by the economic downturn.