190310 Etihad airways
Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Etihad Airways reported a loss of $1.28 billion in 2018, as passenger numbers, cargo revenues and freight traffic dipped.

It's the third consecutive year of losses for the UAE-based airline, which reported on Thursday a revenue of $5.86 billion, down from $6 billion in the previous year.

The airline had incurred losses amounting to $1.95 billion in 2016 and $1.52 billion in 2017, putting the carrier’s total losses to $4.75 billion in the last three years.

However, the airline,which had recently offered to raise its stake in India’s Jet Airways to 49 per cent, maintained that its core operating performance has improved, adding that it has managed to bring the costs down by millions of dollars.

“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," the company said in a statement.

The airline carried 17.8 million passengers in 2018, down from 18.6 million. Cargo revenue for the year stood at $ 827 million, down from $ 877 million in 2017. Actual freight traffic decreased by 21 per cent, from 4.3 billion to 3.4 billion cargo freight tonne kilometres.

The airline increased yields by four per cent, largely driven by capacity discipline, network and fleet optimisation and growing market share in premium and point-to-point markets.

Passenger revenues remained steady at $ 5 billion. However, despite continued losses, the airline said it has managed to cut down total costs by $416 million to $ 6.9 billion, while direct operating costs dropped by $ 226 million despite ongoing fuel price volatility.

Administration and general expenses declined by $190 million, mainly driven by lower indirect manpower and other administration costs.

“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,” said Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer of Etihad Aviation Group.

etihad results
2018 results Image Credit: Supplied