Etihad Airways has reported it improved its core operating performance by 15 per cent in 2018 but still reported a loss of US$1.28 billion for the year – although better than the $1.52 billion in 2017.
The UAE carrier’s revenues reached $5.86 billion (2017: $6 billion) and a three per cent reduction in unit costs despite a 31 per cent surge in fuel prices during the year.
Since commencing its five-year transformation programme in 2017, the airline has improved its core operating performance by 34 per cent despite challenging market conditions and effects of an increase in fuel prices.
Etihad Cargo recorded a strong performance for the year largely due to a lower cost base, a programme of efficiency improvements including the consolidation of the freighter fleet around the Boeing 777F, and a refreshed network focusing on core trade lanes leveraging Abu Dhabi’s geographical position to maximise freighter to belly flows.
Cargo revenue for the year was $827 million (2017: $877 million) with 682,100 leg tonnes carried (2017: 853,300 tonnes). Cargo freight tonne kilometres (FTK) decreased by 21 per cent (from 4.3 billion to 3.4 billion), with a 15.5 per cent increase in yields.
Etihad Aviation chief executive officer, Tony Douglas said: “In 2018, we continued to forge ahead with our transformation journey by streamlining our cost base, improving our cash-flow and strengthening our balance sheet.
“Our transformation is instilling a renewed sense of confidence in our customers, our partners and our people. As a major enabler of commerce and tourism to and from Abu Dhabi, we are intrinsically linked to the continued success of the emirate.”
During 2018, Etihad Airways took delivery of eight new aircraft including three Boeing 787-9s, four Boeing 787-10s and one Boeing 777-200F. The airline’s fleet count at year end was 106.
Following negotiations with Airbus and Boeing, revisions to Etihad’s forward fleet commitments were announced on 14 February 2019. Under these agreements, the airline will take delivery of five Airbus A350-1000, 26 Airbus A321neo and six Boeing 777-9 aircraft in the coming years.