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Lufthansa reports healthy profit, extending recovery

Pent-up demand for air travel means things are now looking up for Lufthansa. ©AFP

Frankfurt (AFP) - German airline giant Lufthansa on Thursday reported a net profit of 809 million euros ($814 million) in the third quarter, as the group extends a strong recovery from the pandemic.

Lufthansa had made huge losses when the coronavirus brought global air travel to a halt, and had to be bailed out by the German government in 2020. 

But a strong rebound in demand as economies reopen has lifted the company's fortunes. 

The net profit of 809 million from July to September compares to a loss of 72 million euros in the same period a year earlier. 

CEO Carsten Spohr said the group had "left the pandemic behind and is looking optimistically into the future".

"The desire to travel, and thus the demand for air travel, continues unabated."

Third quarter revenues almost doubled year-on-year to 10.1 billion euros. 

In the third quarter, more than 33 million passengers flew with the airlines of the group, significantly higher than a year earlier.

The group -- which includes Eurowings, Austrian, Swiss and Brussels Airlines -- had already announced earlier this month it was significantly raising its earnings forecast for 2022 due to strong demand. 

In August, Lufthansa had reported its first net profit since the pandemic. 

Strike action by pilots and ground staff over the July-to-September period cost the airline around 70 million euros, it said.

However, Lufthansa pilots agreed last month not to strike again until at least the end of June next year, after reaching a deal with bosses on higher pay.

The group made huge net losses of 6.7 billion euros in 2020 and 2.2 billion euros in 2021 due to the pandemic, but its finances have stabilised earlier than expected due to a pent-up demand for air travel. 

The German government sold its remaining stake in Lufthansa last month, putting the airline back in private hands.

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