Airliner Aer Lingus said that passenger numbers had jumped 1.5 per cent to 9,766, up from 9,625 a year earlier. This pushed operating profit before exceptional items up 17.8 per cent to €72m (£52.7m) from €61.1m in 2013. But staff "stabilisation" payments of annual salary increases and a one-off charge to resolve pension funding issues tipped the airliner to a €111.5m loss for 2014.
Why it's interesting
Aer Lingus once again stressed that a takeover by British Airways owner IAG would be beneficial. Nonetheless, IAG has struggled to get approval from the Irish government, which owns a 25 per cent stake.
While the Irish government has said Aer Lingus' profitability means it should remain an independent airline, the company's board has argued a takeover would bolster future growth and make it more competitive.
"To enhance these excellent results and to accelerate Aer Lingus' growth, it is the board's strong belief that the company should now take the opportunity to combine with IAG," chairman Colm Barrington said in the results statement.
What Aer Lingus said
Christoph Mueller, chief executive of Aer Lingus, 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 7 the 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.
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.
While Aer Lingus fell to a loss of €111.5m for 2014 this was due to one-off charge from its pension fund. Meanwhile, passenger numbers continued to rise, and the company's operating profit also posted good growth.