Air Arabia records net profit in Q4

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Air Arabia reported a net profit of AED 26 million (US$7 million) for the fourth quarter 2018 which it said is in line with the strong net profit recorded in the same period last year.

The carrier reported turnover for the three months ending 31 December 2018 was AED 1 billion, an increase of 20 per cent compared to AED 858 million in the same period in 2017.

Air Arabia flew over 2.1 million passengers in the final quarter of 2018, an increase of five per cent compared to the same period last year at an impressive average seat load factor – or passengers carried as a percentage of available seats – of 81 per cent.

Turnover for the full year 2018 was AED 4.12 billion, 10 per cent higher than the turnover recorded in 2017. More than 8.7 million passengers flew with Air Arabia in 2018, an increase of 2 per cent compared to 2017 while the average seat load factor for the year stood at 81 per cent.

However, the carrier is set to take a hit due to the collapse of the private equity firm Abraaj: “Following the Board of Directors proposed impairment in relation to the Group’s financial exposure in private equity firm Abraaj, the carrier will report an accumulated loss of AED 307 million, subject to ratification by Air Arabia shareholders at the company’s upcoming Annual General Meeting. ”

Air Arabia chairman, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Thani said: “Air Arabia’s fourth quarter and full year results remain fundamentally strong and driven by the carrier’s network expansion strategy, cost control measures and the appealing customer demand to our services.

“While regional geo-political challenges continued to impact the performance of the aviation sector in the region, we are glad that Air Arabia continues to report solid and sustained growth margins across our network which reflects the strength of our business model.”

He added: “Air Arabia remains amongst the world’s most profitable airlines and the 2018 financial and operational performance is a testament to its continued success.

“The board’s proposed impairment in relation to Abraaj exposure aims to serve the best interests of the company and its investors through a pragmatic approach to handle the future investment value of this exposure. This impairment reflects the company’s long-term commitment to protect its investment and business interests.”

Al Thani concluded: “We expect the solid operating metrics and high seat load factor that Air Arabia achieved in 2018 to continue as the long-term fundamentals of the aviation sector in the region and the underlying demand for affordable air travel remain strong.”

Air Arabia added 26 new routes to its global network in 2018 from its operating hubs in the UAE, Morocco and Egypt.

The carrier took delivery of three new aircraft and ended the year with a fleet of 53 Airbus A320 aircraft operating to over 155 routes across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.