Finland’s flag carrier Finnair has revised its projected comparable operating result for the entire year of 2023, indicating a stronger-than-expected travel demand, favourable fuel price trends, and successful implementation of the company’s strategic initiatives.
In contrast to the previously released forecast, Finnair now anticipates that the comparable operating result will likely reach or even surpass the level achieved in 2019, which amounted to 162.8 million euros.
However, the projected revenue for 2023 is still expected to fall short of the 2019 figure of 3,097.7 million euros.
This improved profit outlook enables Finnair to achieve its strategic target of a comparable operating profit margin of at least 5 percent from mid-2024 onwards, 12-18 months earlier than initially anticipated.
Nonetheless, it is not all plain sailing for the Finnish carrier, and uncertainties persist in Finnair’s operating environment. High fuel prices and the continued closure of Russian airspace contribute to this uncertainty.
Moreover, the impact of inflation and rising interest rates on demand and costs remains uncertain as well.
In its guidance published on April 27, 2023, Finnair projected a significant year-on-year increase in revenue and a substantial improvement in the comparable operating result for 2023.
The company attributed the challenging first half of 2022, which was heavily affected by the pandemic and the closure of Russian airspace, as the primary reason for the anticipated improvement.
However, Finnair does not expect to reach the revenue and comparable operating result levels achieved in 2019.
2023 performance to date
In the first quarter of 2023, Finnair carried 1.4 million passengers, which was an increase of 140% compared to the same period in 2022.
The airline’s load factor, which is a measure of how full its flights are, was 82%, which was an increase of 10 percentage points compared to the same period in 2022.
Finnair’s strong passenger traffic growth is due to a number of factors, including the easing of travel restrictions, the strong demand for travel to Asia, and the growth of Finnair’s codeshare agreements with other airlines.
However, Finnair has also faced rising costs in 2023. The airline’s fuel costs have increased by 60% compared to the same period in 2022, and its labour costs have increased by 5%.
As a result of these factors, Finnair’s operating profit for the first quarter of 2023 was €12 million, which was a decrease of 75% compared to the same period in 2022.
Finnair expects that its passenger traffic will continue to grow in 2023, but it also expects that its costs will continue to rise. As a result, the airline expects that its operating profit for the full year 2023 will be lower than its operating profit for the full year 2022.
Finnair plans to provide a further updated outlook and guidance for the full year of 2023 in its upcoming half-year report, scheduled for publication on July 21, 2023.