Air Arabia, the UAE's publicly-listed budget airline, yesterday reported a 20 per cent rise in first-quarter net profit on the back of a 22 per cent jump in revenue.
The Sharjah-based airline's financial results for the three months ending March 31 showed it continued to build on its strong performance last year.
Net profit for the first three months of the year was Dh59 million, compared with Dh49m in the same period a year ago, Air Arabia said. Revenue for the quarter was Dh722m, up from Dh594m. Passenger traffic during the period rose 18 per cent.
The airline carried a record 1.4 million passengers in the first quarter of this year, the highest number of passengers handled in a quarter since its launch in 2003. The average seat load factor - or passengers carried as a percentage of available seats - was 82 per cent. "Air Arabia continues to set a benchmark for the low-cost carrier model as well as for the wider aviation sector in the region," said Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammad Al Thani, the chairman of Air Arabia.
"The airline is on a steady growth trajectory. The sustained profitability and solid growth margins [will] enable Air Arabia to enter new geographies and launch new ventures."
Air Arabia took delivery of two aircraft from Airbus during the first quarter. The airline will receive four more A320 aircraft this year, which is in line with its plan to expand its geographic network and increase the size of its fleet by 2016. The airline also launched four new destinations from its primary hub in Sharjah and increased the frequency of flights to Beirut, Salalah and Dhaka.
Air Arabia reported in February it had made a net profit of Dh425m for the full year ending December 31, 2012, compared with Dh274m reported for a year earlier.
The airline's turnover for the full year 2012 stood at Dh2.9 billion, compared with Dh2.4bn registered in 2011. Air Arabia also said it carried more than 5.3 million passengers last year, registering a 13 per cent increase compared with 4.7 million passengers in 2011.
Last week, Air Arabia's shares surged to the highest level in more than three years after an announcement from the Arabian Travel Market exhibition in Dubai that the emirate plans to double its number of visitors to 20 million by 2020 and triple annual revenue from the travel industry to Dh300bn.