Etihad Airways reduced its losses by $432 million in the 2017 financial year but still made a loss of $1.52 billion.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline said operating performance improved by 22 per cent as in the 2016 financial year, it posted a massive loss of $1.95 billion.
Etihad Airways said the 2017 improvement came despite facing challenges including significant fuel cost increases, the entry into administration of its equity partners Alitalia and airberlin, and initial investment in a comprehensive business transformation programme.
In 2017, revenues from core operations increased by 1.9 per cent to $ 6.1 billion (2016: $5.9 billion). A strong focus on efficiency delivered a 7.3 per cent reduction in unit costs, despite the adverse impact of $337 million from higher fuel prices.
Passenger revenue was $5 million, up from $4.9 million in 2016 and the carrier welcomed 18.6 million passengers (2016: 18.5 million). Passenger and cargo yields improved as a result of capacity discipline, changes to the network with an increased focus on point-to-point traffic, leveraging of technology, and improving market conditions.
Etihad Airways carried 18.6 million passengers at a 78.5 per cent load factor (2016: 78.6 per cent). Available seat kilometres (ASKs) increased one per cent in 2017, which the airlines said reflected “a significant moderation of capacity growth”, and contributing to an improvement in the quality of the airline’s revenues.
Etihad Aviation Group chairman of the board, Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, said: “This was a pivotal year in Etihad’s transformation journey. The board, new executive leadership team and all our employees worked extremely hard to navigate the challenges we faced. We made significant progress in driving improved performance and we are on track in 2018.”
Etihad Aviation Group chief executive officer, Tony Douglas added it made good progress in improving the quality of revenues, streamlining the cost base, improving cash-flow and strengthening the balance sheet.
He added: “These are solid first steps in an ongoing journey to transform this business into one that is positioned for financially sustainable growth over the long term. I would like to thank our people for their hard work and dedication in 2017.
“It is crucial that we maintain this momentum, retaining talent and attracting leading professionals from around the world to work alongside our highly-skilled UAE national workforce.”
In 2017, Etihad Airways received 12 new aircraft in 2017, including two Airbus A380s, nine Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, and an Airbus A330F. It stopped routes to Dallas/Fort Worth, Entebbe, Jaipur, San Francisco, Tehran, and Venice and added a new connection from Abu Dhabi to Baku which launched in March 2018 and services to Barcelona will start on 21 November 2018.
Etihad Airways CEO, Peter Baumgartner said: “Our transformation process has delivered tangible results to date, with a significant improvement in performance for 2017.
“Passenger yields for the last quarter were up a very healthy 9% versus the same period a year before. On-time performance was at record levels and operationally we continue to drive down costs without compromising on safety or quality across all areas of the business.”