* Lufthansa Q1 EBIT 25 mln eur vs expectations for loss
* Q1 adj EBIT 25 mln eur vs expectations for loss
* Lufthansa sticks to 2017 guidance
* Shares down 4.2 percent
(Adds profit figures, graphic)
By Victoria Bryan
BERLIN, April 27 Germany's Lufthansa
played down prospects of acquiring more airlines on Thursday and
said it would work harder on costs after it swung to a
first-quarter profit, its first since 2008 in what is
traditionally a weak quarter for airlines.
With Alitalia reviewing its future after workers rejected a
rescue plan and Air Berlin expected to report higher
losses for 2016 on Friday, speculation has swirled that
Lufthansa could be in the frame to take on the two carriers.
Lufthansa has been driving consolidation among European
airlines recently, taking over Brussels Airlines and leasing 38
planes and crew from struggling Air Berlin, to grow its budget
But Chief Financial Officer Ulrik Svensson said on Thursday
that Lufthansa was not looking to take over Alitalia and
repeated that debt, anti-trust concerns and cost levels remained
obstacles to further Air Berlin consolidation.
Budget rival Norwegian Air Shuttle also said on
Thursday it was not interested in any Alitalia assets.
Despite a rebound in travel demand from North America and
Asia, and a more positive view on prices this year, Lufthansa
held off upgrading its 2017 profit target, saying it did not
have enough of an overview yet of summer bookings.
Yields, a measure of pricing, dropped 2.4 percent in the
first quarter excluding currency effects, compared with a
decline of 4.1 percent for the full year 2016.
Svensson cautioned that Lufthansa would chase volumes in the
summer, which would weigh on yields.
Lufthansa has been trying to bring down costs to better
compete with rivals and a long-sought breakthrough with its
pilots on pay and pensions in March, which remains to be
finalised, has helped to drive its share price.
But unit costs at Lufthansa's airline business, stripping
out a higher fuel bill, rose an unexpected 1.4 percent in the
first quarter, leading to wider losses at its network airlines
Svensson said the cost increase in the first quarter stemmed
from aircraft maintenance, especially at Austrian Airlines, and
higher airport and catering fees due to rising passenger numbers
and fuller planes.
"We are clearly disappointed on the (cost) development," he
told analysts and journalists in a conference call.
He said it would now be more difficult for Lufthansa to
reach a target to reduce costs by 2.5 percent this year, adding
delays to deliveries of new, more efficient planes, could also
drag on costs this year.
Lufthansa shares, which have gained 37 percent so far this
year, were down 4.2 percent at 1127 GMT, among the biggest
fallers on the Dax.
It reported adjusted earnings before interest and tax of 25
million euros ($27 million), against a loss of 53 million a year
ago and compared with expectations for a loss of 26.6 million in
a Reuters poll.
($1 = 0.9175 euros)
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Maria Sheahan and