Lufthansa presents shareholders with good company result for 2008
Dividend of 70 cent per share proposed to Lufthansa shareholders Mayrhuber: “Europe should view the current crisis as an opportunity.”
At this year’s Lufthansa Annual General Meeting in Cologne, Lufthansa Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber presented shareholders with the second best result in the company’s history for 2008. “The achieved economic result sets us distinctly apart from our competitors and places us in a positive light. If one takes into consideration the market environment in 2008 – an environment which saw fuel prices soar to record levels and the financial markets crisis, then we owe the Management and employees of the Group our special respect and thanks for what they have achieved. We were able to maintain our strategic course and possess a solid foundation, both financially and operationally. This represents a decisive advantage in overcoming the current crisis. With the excellent result of 2008 we have proven that the confidence of our shareholders in us is justified”, stated Mayrhuber in Cologne. The Executive Board and Supervisory Board proposed a dividend of 70 cents per share to the shareholders. “This is an attractive value on the basis of the dividend yield and a top DAX value. We believe that we have come up with a fair compromise in view of the challenges that lie ahead during the coming year”, said Mayrhuber referring to the proposed dividend that was lower in comparison to the 2007 dividend, which had included profits from the sale of Thomas Cook shares.
In reference to the current position of the Group, the Lufthansa CEO and Chairman stated that: “The crane is a tenacious bird. It can handle a little bad weather and knows when to take evasive action if the turbulence becomes too strong.” However, the extent and duration of the current economic crisis could not be forecast and the aviation industry should be prepared to face considerable consequences. “Hard times lie ahead. At present, we have consciously deployed the flaps, but we are always capable of increasing the throttle”, said the Lufthansa CEO. “The quality of a company can also be determined in whether it must correct its strategic course during times of crisis. This is not the case at Lufthansa – on the contrary.” Lufthansa should continue to develop its airline group and should strengthen its alliance and partnerships. Important foundations have been laid in the consolidation process. “The further consolidation of airlines in Europe is a prerequisite in order to be able to succeed in global competition. It is in the interest of the business location and employment market that no insurmountable obstacles be placed in the way.”
The ongoing crisis had a considerable effect on the current business year, but it would also offer opportunities in many areas according to Mayrhuber: “Subsidies are unnecessary in the aviation industry. What we need are reasonable and flexible framework conditions, and not new burdens.” Speaking on the prospect of a night flight ban at Frankfurt Airport, the Lufthansa CEO said, “At a time when the lights are going out everywhere from the Frankfurt banking district to Rüsselsheim, and the politicians are investing billions to rescue companies, we are still running the risk of the lights going out at Frankfurt Airport, one of the most important airports in the world, because of the pressure of a few people that oppose night flights, and of subsequently losing thousands of jobs and the export business that is so important for Germany.” In addition, Mayrhuber called for more flexibility from partners in the aviation value chain during times of declining passenger and cargo figures.
The European Union’s decision to uncouple itself from the Kyoto Protocol and conclude its own emission trading system for Europe would also have drastic economic consequences for the European airlines, added Mayrhuber at the Annual General Meeting in Cologne. It could only be hoped for that the necessary steps for a global emissions trading system will be implemented at the end of the year and thus ensure fair competition. However, Mayrhuber warned that it would be a mistake to only rely on regulatory instruments, stating that technological and operational advances would be more effective: “The reduction of emissions is in any case an inherent interest of airlines, because it means we save fuel and consequently costs. Lufthansa is building on its own comprehensive four-pillar strategy that combines technical progress, a more efficient use of infrastructure and the optimisation of operations and economic instruments, including alternative fuels.”
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