Etihad Airways squeezes annual losses down to $870m

Etihad Airways’ transformation strategy is on-track to deliver profitability, insists CEO Tony Douglas
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Etihad Airways, Etihad

Etihad Airways reduced its losses down to $870 million in 2019 from $1.28 billion the previous year as part of its ongoing transformation plan which aims to pull the airline into profitability.

Etihad said the result is better than its projection for the year and that operation performance had improved by 32% since 2018.

The airline turned over $5.6 billion and managed to reduce operating costs, thanks in part to fuel prices, according to CEO Tony Douglas.

“Operating costs were reduced significantly last year and both yields and load factors were increased despite passenger revenues being down due to network optimization,” said Mr Douglas.

“An improvement to the cost base significantly offset the cost pressures faced by the business, giving us headroom to invest in the guest experience, technology and innovation, and our major sustainability initiatives.

“There’s still some way to go but progress made in 2019, and cumulatively since 2017, has instilled in us a renewed vigour and determination to push ahead and implement the changes needed to continue this positive trajectory.”

The collapse of Jet Airways, a key feeder to Etihad from India, failed to dampen passenger demand to and from Etihad’s 10 Indian gateways over the year.  

Etihad carried 17.5 million passengers in 2019, slightly fewer than in 2018 (17.8m), with a 78.7% seat load factor and a decrease in passenger capacity of 6%.

Due to the capacity reduction, passenger revenues decreased to $4.8 billion from $5 billion but route profitability improved.

In 2019, Etihad took delivery of eight Boeing 787-9s and three Boeing 787-10s, while retiring its Airbus A330s from the mainline fleet. The airline’s fleet count at year-end was 101 (95 passenger aircraft and six cargo freighters).

Etihad Cargo handled a total of 635,000 tonnes in 2019 with total revenues of $700 million.

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