August 22, 2017 / 8:30 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Vienna Airport keeps profit forecast despite Air Berlin insolvency

* Still expects 2017 net profit to rise at least 6.6 percent

* Lufthansa units, easyJet compensate for Air Berlin losses

* Forecasts at least 5 percent passenger growth in 2017

* Shares gain as much as 4.7 percent (Adds detailed forecast, shares, background)

VIENNA, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Vienna Airport on Tuesday confirmed its full-year profit forecast after Austrian Airlines, Eurowings and easyJet attracted enough passengers in the first half to more than compensate for falling revenue from insolvent Air Berlin.

The airport operator, which is fighting a court battle to be allowed to build a third runway, increased its 2017 passenger growth forecast, helping its shares to gain 4.7 percent.

The group, one of Europe’s main air traffic hubs for eastern European destinations, still expects 2017 net profit to increase by at least 6.6 percent to 120 million euros ($141 million).

It posted a 4.4 percent rise to 60.1 million euros in the six months through June.

Despite turbulence from Air Berlin’s insolvency, revenue growth from Austrian Airlines, Eurowings and easyJet more than compensated for the capacity reductions, managing board member Julian Jaeger said in a statement.

Passenger numbers at Air Berlin fell 15 percent at Vienna Airport in the first half of the year and those of its Austrian unit Niki Airlines by a further 70 percent, the group said.

But Vienna Airport expects to benefit from growth at British budget airline easyJet, which set up a new airline in Austria to protect its flying rights in the European Union once Britain leaves the bloc. German carrier Lufthansa also selected an Austrian operating licence for its budget unit Eurowings.

The number of passengers travelling to destinations in eastern Europe increased 11 percent in the first half. Passenger traffic to western Europe was up 5 percent.

The group now expects to handle more than 5 percent more passengers this year than in 2016, after previously forecasting an increase of up to 3 percent.

Vienna Airport shares traded 4.7 percent higher at 32.59 euros at 0826 GMT, outperforming the Austrian blue-chip index , which was up 0.4 percent.

$1 = 0.8484 euros Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Edmund Blair

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