Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said yesterday its fiscal first quarter passenger revenue rose 19 per cent on year to $900 million (Dh3.3 billion) while cargo revenue jumped 17 per cent to $193 million from $165 million in the corresponding quarter a year earlier.
In a statement, Etihad said it has recorded its “strongest ever passenger and cargo results for a first quarter”.
The airline said its passenger numbers reported an 18 per cent on the year growth in the first quarter at 2.8 million, adding the average seat factor was 80.5 per cent, four percentage points higher than the previous year, despite a 12 per cent increase in capacity.
“The seat factor is above IATA’s current global average of 77.1 per cent,” said Etihad, adding Etihad Cargo’s tonnage was up 20 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter to 101,776 tonnes.
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “Our first quarter 2013 results have again outstripped global trends, with our strongest ever first quarter results for passenger revenue. This performance demonstrates that Etihad Airways’ strategy of organic growth, wide-ranging partnerships, and strategic equity investments is delivering for us and our partners.
Revenue from codeshare and equity partners jumped by 34 per cent from $136 million to $182 million in the first three months of the year and represented 20 per cent of total revenue in the quarter, said Etihad.
“As well as increasing top-line revenue, our equity partnerships will improve bottom-line results, through cost savings delivered by operational synergies,” Hogan added.
Commenting on Etihad’s first quarter performance, Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research.com told Gulf News: “Etihad’s numbers show that the airlines policy of both organic and inorganic growth is bringing some very positive returns for the airline. If you look at the startling rise in passenger revenue by 19 per cent, coupled with a 15 per cent rise in total revenue on the back of an 18 per cent increase in passenger numbers, Etihad has managed to successfully turn its Abu Dhabi hub into what Emirates has in Dubai.”
He added: “The rise in load factors to over 80 per cent also suggests that the demand for travel to and through the GCC, in particular the UAE, remains strong and that passenger demand is still increasing. Like other airlines, Etihad will have been exposed to ever-increasing oil prices — and that’s where its strategy of codeshare and equity stakes in other airlines has allowed the airline to rapidly expand but without the exposure to or need to absorb more fuel-related costs. By partnering up, it has gained greater market share into regions like Europe (through a now profitable Air Berlin) and in Australia (through Virgin Australia) — this would not have been possible if Etihad did it alone. By reducing its risk, it’s done away with the need to induct more airplanes.”
Ahmad also said Etihad’s results demonstrate that the “GCC is still a hot magnet for demand and travel and it’s with good reason — the UAE has catapulted itself and used its geographic location to provide one-stop services so that pretty much any two city pairs can be within reach by using either Abu Dhabi or Dubai.”