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Swiss doubles operating profit in half year

Swiss International Air Lines, owned by Germany’s Lufthansa, has announced an operating profit of SFr129 million ($162 million) for the first six months of the year.

In a statement, Swiss said the result more than doubled the operating profit of SFr61 million for the first half of 2010.

Total income from operating activities for January to June 2011 was SFr2,406 billion, a seven per cent year increase compared with the year before.

The company said the second quarter saw “a particularly strong improvement” on the same three months of 2010, in which results had been depressed through the airspace closures prompted by Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud and the corresponding revenue losses.

“Given the difficult market environment, we can be satisfied with these first-half results,” said chief executive Harry Hohmeister. “At the same time, though, the challenges continue to grow.”

The statement said that increased demand, especially on intercontinental routes, had largely offset the adverse effects of high fuel prices and a strong Swiss franc. First-half business was additionally burdened by the political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East and the repercussions of the earthquake in Japan.

Also on Thursday, Swiss announced it would offer a new daily non-stop service between Zurich and Beijing from February 2012.

It would also be increasing its capacity over the North Atlantic from summer of next year, deploying its own bigger aircraft on the Zurich-Newark route.

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