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Air Arabia said that it drove its cost margins lower in the first quarter while also adding new routes and frequencies. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Air Arabia reported on Sunday a 17 per cent year-on-year increase in its net profit for the first quarter of 2019 as revenues and passenger numbers rose.

The low-cost carrier said its net profit reached Dh128 million for the quarter, with turnover at Dh1.03 billion — up 17 per cent over the same quarter of 2018. Over 2.8 million passengers flew with Air Arabia in the quarter — up 8 per cent year-on-year.

Shaikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed Al Thani, chairman of Air Arabia, said in a statement that the results reflect the strength of the low-cost carrier business model and the continuing demand for it.

2.8m

Passengers who flew on Air Arabia in the first quarter

“Oil price, geopolitical and economic developments continue to impact the trading conditions in the region, including the aviation sector,” he said.

“Nonetheless, we are confident of the long-term fundamentals of the aviation sector in the region and the increased demand for affordable air travel that Air Arabia now serves across a wide geographic network in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Europe.”

The company is yet to release its full financial statement, only issuing a press release on Sunday, so details of their earnings could not be found.

Air Arabia said, however, that it drove its cost margins lower in the first quarter while also adding new routes and frequencies.

During the first quarter, the Sharjah-based airline added five new routes from its hubs in Morocco and Egypt. It also received its first Airbus A321neo, which it plans to use to operate longer range flights.

Adel Ali, the company’s chief executive officer, said at a conference last week that Air Arabia is keen to increase its operations into North Africa, China, and some markets in Europe, and is in talks to order over 100 aircraft to allow it to grow its network.

Financially, Ali implied that Air Arabia will not be paying any more impairments this year on its exposure to the now-bankrupt Abraaj Group. The carrier paid Dh1.1 billion in impairments on its investments in the collapsed private equity firm in 2018, and Ali said that was a “one-year loss.”