Dubai: Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways recorded revenues of $300 million for first six months of 2021, down from the $1 billion recorded same time last year as COVID-19 related issues kept burdening airlines. But there was compensation in the form of a 44 per cent increase in freight carried - 365,500 tonnes - and a 56 per cent revenue to $800 million.
“Every day, Etihad Airways is making up for lost ground - despite the curveball of the Delta variant disrupting global recovery in air travel, we have continued to ramp up operations and are today in a much better place than this time in 2020," said Tony Douglas, Group CEO. "As soon as destinations are added to the Abu Dhabi 'green list' or UAE travel corridors, we are seeing a three to six-fold jump in bookings in some cases, showing there is a tidal wave of demand waiting to be unleashed. We are ready to welcome more guests on board to experience why Etihad is second to none when it comes to ensuring passenger wellbeing.”
1 million strong
In the first six months, the airline carried 1 million passengers, and would be helped by resumption of services from India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries. The airline operated nearly 3,500 flights a month to 67 passenger and cargo destinations by the end of June. Since the January, it has launched - or restarted - operations to 10 destinations, including the launch of scheduled services to Tel Aviv in April.
Etihad had a core operating loss of $400 million during the period, which is half the loss of from first-half 2020, with the EBITDA (earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation) actually turning positive at $100 million from a negative $100 million in the same period of 2020.
Cargo weighs in
Adam Boukadida, Chief Financial Officer, said: “While market demand has been slower to recover than anticipated, our record cargo performance has continued to buoy the business. At the same time, we have continued to strengthen underlying fundamentals to place Etihad in a better position to maximise the value of passenger revenue as our volumes return.
"Our rock-solid credit rating has remained unwavering throughout the pandemic and was once again reaffirmed at ‘A with a stable outlook’ by Fitch in April, serving as a clear sign of the long-term financial viability of our business. While the pandemic still poses challenges, Etihad is on the path to becoming a sustainable and profitable business.”
Etihad is operating 64 aircraft, including five freighters, after parking part of its fleet indefinitely as a result of the pandemic. The airline had 103 aircraft last year. The number of passenger destinations grew by 20 per cent in the first six months of 2021.
Etihad, which was one of the first companies in UAE to offer employees access to a COVID-19 vaccine, said more than 92 per cent of its UAE-based staff had elected to take the vaccination. In February, Etihad became the first airline in the world with 100 per cent of operating pilots and cabin crew on board vaccinated to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Fixed overheads saw a reduction by 22 per cent to US$0.3 billion, while finance costs were lower by 22 per cent owing to an “ongoing balance-sheet deleveraging”. As a result, the airline managed to rebuild its liquidity position to pre-pandemic levels.