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Air Berlin Hopeful Of Future After Dismal 2011 - Update

Air Berlin Plc (AIBEF.PK) on Friday said it is looking at the future more positively after poor 2011 results that were hurt by additional taxes and one-off effects, apart from unfavorable weather and strikes. The company reported a sharply wider net loss for the year despite a nearly 14 percent growth in revenue.

The second largest German airline noted that its results were hurt by severe winter in Europe early in 2011, the Arab Spring, air-traffic control strikes and the threat of strike action.

The company's CEO Hartmut Mehdorn said, "Despite record figures for turnover and passenger numbers, we cannot be satisfied with the 2011 results."

Larger rival Deutsche Lufthansa AG (DLAKY.PK,DLAKF.PK) on Thursday posted a loss for 2011, hurt largely by costs associated with the disposal of its loss-making subsidiary British Midland Ltd.

Air Berlin's net loss for the year was 265.6 million euros compared to a loss of 97.2 million in the previous year and included a tax benefit of 93.2 million euros. Loss per share was 3.12 euros compared to 1.14 euros in 2010.

The company incurred extraordinary charges of around 395 million euros in 2011, owing to a 165.6 million euros impact related to the introduction of the German aviation tax and 229.2 million euros associated with increase in fuel prices.

Loss before interest and taxes sharply widened to 247.0 million from 9.3 million euros.

Group revenue increased to 4.23 billion euros from 3.72 billion euros, while operating expenses climbed 20.6 percent to 3.81 billion euros.

The company expects its efficiency improvement program "Shape & Size" to show its effectiveness from the first quarter. The initiative is anticipated to reach its full effect and unfold in the second half of the year. The company plans to improve operating result by over 200 million euros in 2012 due to this program.

Despite higher fuel costs, the airline expects the first-quarter of fiscal 2012 to be better than previous year.

Lufthansa has said its operating profit is likely to decline again in 2012, particularly due to fuel costs and an uncertain economic environment.

Air Berlin shares closed on the Xetra on Thursday up by 0.17 percent at 2.30 euros on a volume of 88,271 shares.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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