Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the UAE, reported a net profit of $42 million in 2012, a 200 per cent increase over last year’s $14 million net profit, its President and Chief Executive Officer James Hogan announced during a press conference on Monday.
“We have delivered improved net profit, the second consecutive year we have been in the black, a remarkable achievement given the youth, ambitious growth and ongoing investment made by this airline,” he said.
Revenue increased 17 per cent to $4.8 billion and passenger numbers were up 23 per cent to 10.3 million, due to the airline’s equity partnership and codeshares. Etihad Airways currently owns stake in Air Seychelles (40 per cent), airberlin (29.21 per cent), Virgin Australia (9 per cent) and Aer Lingus (2.987 per cent), with whom it collectively flies 379 aircraft to 384 destinations, the airline said. The airline is also in discussion to buy stake in India’s Jet Airways, as Etihad is interested in expanding its position in the Indian market.
Cargo also saw tonnage growth of 19 per cent on the back of a capacity increase of 14 per cent in available tonnage kilometres, Hogan said.
In 2012, Etihad Airways’ fleet increased by six to 70 aircraft and its passenger numbers passed the 10 million mark for the first time. The airline also began to fly to six new destinations: Tripoli, Shanghai, Nairobi, Lagos, Ahmedabad and Basra.
The airline has also announced new flights to Washington, Amsterdam, Sao Paolo and Ho Chi Minh City for 2013. Planned fleet upgrades for 2013 include 14 aircraft, with 11 passenger aircraft deliveries and three freighter deliveries.
The orders are for nine wide-bodied aircraft (six Boeing 777-300ER passenger, two Boeing 777 freighter and one Airbus 330 Freighter) and five narrow body aircraft (four Airbus 320 and one Airbus 321), which will be raised by the financial market for $1.5 billion. The airline’s Chief Financial Officer said that the funding of nine of those airplanes has already been secured.
By 2017 the airline is expected to have up to 168 aircraft, flying 25 million passengers per year up to 100 major and leisure destinations, Hogan said.
“The significant rise in revenue, passengers and revenue passenger kilometres [up 23 per cent to $48 billion] demonstrates that the airline is using its dual policy of organic and inorganic growth via partners to bolster its business and it’s working very well,” said Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at UK-based StrategicAero Research. “Once the likes of airberlin get into the black as well, Etihad will be able to reap even greater rewards, financially and via greater passenger numbers too.”
“Despite the fact that there still is some regional uncertainty, Etihad can look forward to a robust and prosperous 2013,” Ahmad said. “It has new fuel-efficient airplanes like the 777-300ER coming to grow its fleet, it has new destinations like Washington D.C. on the cards and combined, it will be less reliant and exposed to any instability in the Middle East and will be able to open up new markets where there is scant competition, especially in places like the USA where barely any US airline directly serves the GCC.”