Aer Lingus today announced its preliminary results for the year ended 31st December 2014. The airline achieved an operating profit performance of €72.0 million, up 17.8% from €61.1 million in the previous year. Total revenue for 2014 was up 9.2% to €1,556.9 million compared to €1,425.1 million in 2013.
During 2014 Aer Lingus’s total network passengers surpassed 11 million for the first time in its history. Average fare revenue per seat was €98.93, up 9.4%.
Long-haul performance was particularly strong with revenue up 28.4% to €490.0 million, passenger numbers up 20.6% and load factor up 0.6 points to 83.7%.
Short-haul performance was resilient in a highly competitive environment with average fare per seat up 2.5% to €69.60 on steady load factors. Short-haul revenue in 2014 was €791.0 million compared to €789.0 million in the previous year.
A number of important strategic initiatives were achieved during 2014 including the successful transatlantic expansion with additional capacity of 23.8% deployed; the move from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 in London Heathrow resulting in an improved customer experience; and the resolution of legacy pension funding issues.
The balance sheet was again strong at the year-end with a 29.9% increase in net cash to €545.3 million.
Given Aer Lingus’s improved operating performance in 2014, the Board is proposing to pay an increased dividend of 5 cent per share for 2014, up from 4 cent for the year 2013.
Christoph Mueller, Chief Executive, said:“The year 2014 proved the strength of our ‘value carrier’ business model across both our short- and long-haul businesses. We profitably expanded our long-haul network utilising our cost advantage and favourable geographic position and helped establish Dublin as the seventh largest European hub for transatlantic connections. Our short-haul business continued to demonstrate its resilience despite a highly competitive market. Commercial initiatives, in addition to cost control, led to the highest operating profit since the financial crisis and 17.8% above last year.
“The focus on our business is unabated and in the coming months we will invest in our customer proposition and distribution model in addition to reducing costs. Now that the complex IASS pension funding issues have been addressed, we are re-launching our CORE programme, starting with the introduction of a new voluntary severance scheme at the beginning of this year.
“I am delighted to hand the reins to Stephen Kavanagh at the end of this week. I know that the entire Aer Lingus team has a lot of work planned for 2015 and I am confident that they will drive further improvements in profitability, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.”
Aer Lingus Chairman Colm Barrington reiterated the Board’s support for the IAG offer: “Our performance in 2014 was strong, with significant growth in long-haul and resilient short-haul operations. To enhance these excellent results and to accelerate Aer Lingus’s growth, it is the Board’s strong belief that the company should now take the opportunity to combine with IAG. In this combination Aer Lingus will operate as a separate business while gaining access to IAG’s extensive network and benefiting from its scale. These significantly positive benefits will de-risk Aer Lingus’s future, strengthen its operations and enhance the future success of the company.”