Etihad Airways’ core operating performance high during 2019 - GulfToday

Etihad Airways’ core operating performance high during 2019


An aerial view of Abu Dhabi International Airport. WAM

Etihad Airways announced an encouraging 32 per cent improvement in its core operating performance for 2019 on revenues of $5.6 billion (2018: $5.9 billion).

Losses were significantly reduced to $0.87 billion (2018: $1.28 billion), a result better than Etihad’s internal plan for 2019. The airline’s transformation programme has seen its cumulative core operating performance improve by 55 per cent since 2017.

Passenger routes were rationalised at the end of 2018 to optimise the network and improve revenue. However, passenger demand to and from Etihad’s 10 gateways in India remained strong, despite the removal of capacity and feeder services previously provided through Jet Airways, and the airline added seats in these markets early in 2019.

Etihad carried 17.5 million passengers in 2019 (2018: 17.8 million). Due to the capacity reduction, passenger revenues slightly decreased to $4.8 billion (2018: $5 billion), but route profitability improved.

Etihad Cargo remained committed to its transformation strategy in 2019 despite challenging market headwinds. Total cargo handled stood at 635,000 tonnes (2018: 682,100 tonnes), with total revenues of $0.70 billion (2018: $0.83 billion).

This decline is mostly attributable to the full-year effect of belly-hold and freighter capacity rationalisation undertaken in the fourth quarter of 2018, combined with adverse market conditions that resulted in yields dropping by 7.8 per cent.

Tony Douglas, Group CEO, Etihad Aviation Group, EAG, said, “Operating costs were reduced significantly last year and both yields and load factors were increased despite passenger revenues being down due to network optimisation. An improvement to the cost base significantly offset the cost pressures faced by the business, giving us the headroom to invest in the guest experience, technology and innovation, and our major sustainability initiatives.”

On-time performance was the best in the region at 82 per cent for flight departures and 85 per cent for arrivals in 2019, completing 99.6 per cent of scheduled flights across its network.

In 2019, Etihad continued its fleet renewal programme and took delivery of additional fuel-efficient, technologically advanced aircraft.

In December, Etihad signed an agreement with Seattle-based aviation finance company, Altavair, and investment firm, KKR, for the sale of the retired Airbus A330 fleet, and the sale and lease-back of the airline’s in-service Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Etihad’s global route network stood at 76 destinations at the end of 2019 and in October 2019, Etihad and Air Arabia announced a new joint venture - Air Arabia Abu Dhabi - which will cater to the demand for low-cost travel options in the region.

In 2019, Etihad signed new and expanded partnerships with Saudia, Gulf Air, Royal Jordanian, Swiss, Kuwait Airways, and PIA.

The airline operated a Boeing 787-9 biofuel flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam in January 2019, representing the maiden flight of an aircraft partly powered by fuel derived from the seeds of the Salicornia plant.

This was followed by a single-use plastic-free flight between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane in April.

In November, Etihad and Boeing launched a first-of-its-kind “eco partnership” known as the Greenliner programme.

While in December 2019, Etihad became the first airline globally to secure funding for a project based on its compatibility with the SDGs of the United Nations.

At the end of last year, the EAG’s multicultural workforce reached 20,369 employees, originating from over 150 countries, working in a culture of tolerance and inclusion. The Group employed 2,491 Emiratis, representing 12.23 per cent of the total EAG workforce. Emirati women make up 50.14 per cent of the total Emirati EAG workforce, employed in all areas of business including as pilots, engineers, technicians and managers.

“As part of our transformation programme, we have made some tough decisions to ensure we continue to grow as a sustainable global aviation enterprise and brand, and a worthy representative of the great emirate of Abu Dhabi, to which Etihad is intrinsically linked,” Douglas concluded.


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