Greek carrier Aegean Airlines reported a first-quarter net loss of €35.2 million ($39.6 million), 14% greater than a €30.8 million loss in the year ago period as fuel costs rose and average fares declined.

The airline and its Olympic Air subsidiary saw consolidated revenue rise 4% year-over-year (YOY) to €172 million, compared to €165.4 million in 1Q 2018. Pre-tax losses widened to €48.7 million from €42.6 million a year ago. Fuel costs were up 15% for the quarter.

“The group managed to deliver growth in revenues, passenger traffic and load factors, within the context of the European economic slowdown, however with a drop in average fares,” CEO Dimitris Gerogiannis said. “Aegean is one of few European airlines which managed to achieve higher revenue during the first quarter of 2019, despite the increased seasonality of the Greek market.”

Aegean and Olympic carried 2.5 million passengers during the quarter, up 7 % YOY. International passenger traffic rose 9% to 1.4 million and domestic traffic was up 4% to 1.1 million.

Capacity, measured in ASKs, rose 4%, and traffic, measured in RPKs, increased 6%. Load factor rose 1.1 points to 82.3%.

For the summer period, the Star Alliance member said it will continue to pursue a strategy of moderate and steady growth, adding new destinations and investing in the extension of the tourism season.

“At the same time, we are working hard to prepare for the introduction of our new Airbus A320neo aircraft in our fleet in 2020,” Gerogiannis said. “We remain cautiously optimistic for our progress in the following summer quarters as the trend of our bookings remains positive.”

Aegean operates a fleet of 49 Airbus A320-family aircraft. Olympic’s fleet comprises two ATR 42-600s, eight Bombardier Q400s and two Dash 8-100s.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at