AUA ticket price hike likely

Austrian Airlines (AUA) bosses have warned that ticket prices may rise in the near future.AUA co-chief Andreas Bierwirth said today (Fri) that the airline could increase its kerosene surcharge depending on developments in Libya.The regime’s army killed hundreds of people who took to the streets to call for democracy and free elections. Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi made clear earlier this week that he would not let his opponents force him out of power. Political leaders across the world are currently discussing whether to impose economic sanctions against Libya which is a major oil-producing country.Bierwirth told the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper that AUA was prepared to cope with an increasing price of mineral oil within a certain frame, unlike the situation in 2008 when the price per barrel rose as dramatically in a short period of time as in the past days.The AUA executive board member however said ticket prices may be increased if developments in the north African country cause a stronger price hike than that predicted by analysts at the moment.Bierwirth vehemently denied that the crisis in North Africa will make it more difficult for AUA to get back in the black. The airline, which was taken over by Germany’s Lufthansa in 2009, made a loss of 44 million Euros in the first 10 months of last year. Austrian and German business press recently claimed that Lufthansa chiefs told AUA’s board they wanted to see it make operative earnings of 50 million Euros in 2010.AUA offers flights to Libya, Iraq, Jordan and other countries where riots against the political elite have been reported. Referring to this, Bierwirth stressed: “We are following what is going on in these areas with much interest, of course.”The aviation manager also said AUA has been starting to take on new staff. The company has around 6,000 employees at the moment, down by more than 2,000 compared to 2009. Bierwirth said AUA – which had 10.9 million passengers last year – wanted to hire between 50 and 60 pilots and stewards.