Swiss has good 2008 but fears 2009

SWISS International Air Lines (Group) achieved earnings before interest and taxes of CHF 507 million (US$426 million) for 2008, a 6.5 per cent decline on the prior-year result.

Total income from operating activities was increased 7.6 per cent to CHF 5,267 million ($4,429 million) over the same period. Swiss was unable to maintain the revenue growth of the earlier months in the fourth quarter of the year, whose CHF 1,295 million ($1,089 million) operating income remained broadly in line with the CHF 1,305 million ($1,097 million) of October-to-December 2007.

Swiss saw a clear weakening in demand for its services in the fourth quarter of 2008 – initially in the cargo sector, but also on the passenger front.

“All in all, 2008 was a good year for Swiss,” said chief executive officer, Christoph Franz. “Our company is profitable, achieved growth that was well above the market average and was able to continue the success of the last few years.

“At the same time, though, the business developments in the last three months of the year have given us a taste of what we can expect in 2009. The 23.2 per cent industry-wide decline in cargo volumes that we saw in January of this year, shows just how severe the current economic crisis is. And our passenger business is also feeling the effects of this more and more, especially in the business travel segment.”

Swiss WorldCargo experienced a sizeable decline in demand towards the end of the year, with cargo tonnage for December over 20 per cent down on the same month in 2007. Cargo load factor for 2008 as a whole fell seven percentage points to 77.6 per cent, while total cargo tonne-kilometres sold for the year were a 5.6 per cent improvement on the 2007 result.

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