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Air Berlin March Capacity Utilization Rises, Despite Lower Passenger Nos

4/5/2012 4:37 AM ET

Air Berlin Plc (AIBEF.PK), Germany's second-largest airline company, on Thursday reported a decline in capacity and passenger numbers in the month of March as well as first quarter. However, capacity utilization increased 'in the context of its "Shape & Size" efficiency-increasing program'

Capacity for the month declined 6.7 percent from last year in a targeted manner to 3.29 million. The number of passengers for the same month decreased a mere 1.1 percent to 2.57 million passengers from 2.59 million passengers in March 2011.

Meanwhile, capacity utilization increased 4.4 percentage points to 78.1 percent from the prior year's capacity utilization rate of 73.7 percent.

For the first quarter of the year 2012, airberlin, partly owned by Gulf carrier Etihad, reduced capacity by 10 percent to 8.53 million and passenger numbers fell 5.3% to 6.87 million. From January to March, the company was able to increase its capacity utilization rate by 3.8 percentage points to 76.3 percent from 72.5 percent last year.

The company previously had said that its efficiency improvement program, which is anticipated to reach its full effect and unfold in the second half of the year, would show its effectiveness from the first quarter. The company plans to improve operating result by over 200 million euros in 2012 due to this program.

On March 16, Air Berlin said it was looking at the future more positively after reporting a sharply wider net loss for the year 2011, despite a nearly 14 percent growth in revenue. Its results for the past year were hurt by severe winter in Europe early in 2011, the Arab Spring, air-traffic control strikes and the threat of strike action.

Air Berlin shares are currently trading at 2.29 euros, down 0.01 euros or 0.43% on Frankfurt's Xetra.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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