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Air Berlin seeks ways to get close to 2013 consensus

A German carrier Air Berlin aircraft takes off at Tegel airport in Berlin, March, 20, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
A German carrier Air Berlin aircraft takes off at Tegel airport in Berlin, March, 20, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Air Berlin , Germany's second biggest airline, said on Wednesday it was looking for additional sources of income in a bid to get close to current market expectations for full-year profit in 2013.

The airline, which is cutting back on routes in a bid to return to profit, reported third-quarter sales and profit that missed average expectations.

Air Berlin, part-owned by Gulf carrier Etihad, said earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose 14 percent to 115.6 million euros, thanks to its Turbine cost cutting program, while sales fell 3.5 percent to 1.35 billion euros.

That was against the average ThomsonReuters I/B/E/S estimates for EBIT of 124 million euros and revenue of 1.38 billion euros for the quarter, traditionally one of the strongest for airlines.

"Despite the third quarter having gone well, we have been unable to meet our earnings targets," Air Berlin said in a statement late on Wednesday, adding the winter period would also be difficult.

"After the first nine months of the year and in light of the continuing challenging market conditions, the company could now only be able to come close to achieving the average market expectations for the full year 2013 profit through one-time positive effects and other operating income," it said, adding the company was pursuing this now.

Air Berlin last year reported its first operating profit in five years, thanks to the cash sale of a stake in its frequent flyer program to Etihad.

The average analyst expectation is for an EBIT loss for the year of 40 million euros, according to ThomsonReuters I/B/E/S.

Air Berlin in August said its EBIT breakeven target for the year looked more difficult to achieve because of the muted economic recovery and weak market environment.

Its biggest rival Lufthansa last month said the slow economic recovery was set to dent profit at its cargo unit and it stuck to a stronger operating profit outlook at the passenger division, pinning hopes on its restructuring program.

Other European airlines such as Ryanair and Finnair have trimmed profit expectations, citing lower demand and the impact of volatile exchange rates.

Air Berlin will publish its full results on Thursday.

(Reporting by Marilyn Gerlach; editing by David Evans)

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