April 11, 2017 / 11:35 AM / 9 months ago

Lufthansa upbeat on pricing, shares rise

BERLIN (Reuters) - Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) said it had seen a slight improvement in the price it gets for its tickets last month, the first time in several years it has not reported a decline, sending its shares to a near three-year high.

The comment came as the German airline group published traffic data for March showing an 11 percent increase in demand thanks to growth at its budget Eurowings division, which it is expanding rapidly this year.

“Pricing was slightly positive in March on a currency-neutral basis,” Lufthansa said. A spokesman said the good demand was helping pricing.

The last time Lufthansa described pricing as “positive” in its monthly traffic update was as long ago as August 2013.

Its shares extended earlier gains to trade up 4.9 percent to hit their highest level since June 2014.

Other European carriers also rose, with easyJet (EZJ.L), Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) and British Airways-owner IAG (ICAG.L) gaining between 3 and 4 percent.

After a couple of years marked by falling ticket prices and tough competition, executives at European carriers have said the decline should slow this year.

    Air France-KLM also said on Monday that the improved pricing trend it had seen since the end of 2016 had continued in March.

    Exane BNP Paribas analysts on Tuesday said fuel prices, which are rising but relatively stable, should help yields at European carriers this year and next as carriers are likely to rein in growth in seat supply, but enjoy strong demand for travel.

    Lufthansa said on Tuesday traffic measured in revenue seat kilometres rose 11 percent in March while capacity rose more slowly at 9.9 percent. That meant the load factor - a measure of how full planes are - rose 0.8 percentage points to 77.2 percent.

    Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Arno Schuetze/Keith Weir

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