Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) posted adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of CHF490 million ($493.5 million) for the first nine months, down 11% from CHF549 million a year ago.

“Higher fuel and maintenance costs were key contributors to the lower earnings result, which was further reduced by a decline in demand for cargo services and continuing pressure on yields in the passenger segment,” the Lufthansa Group subsidiary said Nov. 7.

Earnings were also reduced by the cost of conducting the first of periodic “C check” maintenance visits on newer members of the fleet, such as the Airbus A220-family aircraft and Boeing 777s, SWISS said.

Total revenue rose 1% year-over-year to CHF4.05 billion. The carrier transported 14.3 million passengers, up 4.4%, during the nine-month period.

“We still aim to achieve a double-digit adjusted EBIT margin for 2019 as a whole. But we remain well aware that this is an ambitious objective,” Niggemann said.

In the third quarter, SWISS’ adjusted EBIT rose 8% to CHF 244 million on a 2% revenue gain to CHF1.47 billion.

“In addition to our higher passenger revenues, we benefited here from the tailwind that was provided by various one-off items,” CFO Michael Niggemann said. The nonrecurring items included the deferral of project costs for two remaining aircraft following the revision of the timetable for the A340 cabin refurbishment program.

SWISS will also launch a refurbishment program for 14 Airbus A330-300s in 2022 to equip them with a state-of-the-art cabin, including a new premium economy class.

Two additional 777-300ERs, which were ordered in May 2018, will enter service in the first quarter of 2020. The entire 777-300ER fleet will also have the premium economy class added to its economy, business and first classes from spring 2021.

In early 2021 SWISS is set to take delivery of its first of 17 A320neos. The carrier also has A321neos on order. All 25 aircraft are scheduled for by the end of 2024.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at