x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Etihad Airways flies high with record first quarter

Etihad Airways posted record first quarter results for both its passenger and cargo operations yesterday.

Etihad's passenger revenues increased 19 per cent to $900 million in the first quarter. Stephen Lock / The National
Etihad's passenger revenues increased 19 per cent to $900 million in the first quarter. Stephen Lock / The National

Etihad Airways posted record firstquarter results for both its passenger and cargo operations yesterday and said it had experienced the best ever percentage of seats filled per flight in a decade of operations.

Etihad reported passenger revenues of US$900 million (Dh3.3 billion) for the first three months of the year, compared with $758m for the same quarter last year, an increase of 19 per cent.

Cargo revenues were $193m for the same period, up from $165m for the first three months of 2012, an increase of 17 per cent.

Passenger numbers grew by 18 per cent, rising from 2.3 million to a record 2.8 million, with an average number of seats filled per flight of 80.5 per cent, 4 per cent higher than the previous year of 76.5 per cent, despite a 12 per cent increase in capacity. The percentage of filled seats is above the International Air Transport Association's current global average of 77.1 per cent.

Etihad Cargo also had its strongest first quarter, with tonnage up 20 per cent from 85,152 to 101,776 tonnes.

"The results have again outstripped global trends, with our strongest ever first quarter results for passenger revenue," said James Hogan, the president and chief executive of Etihad. "This performance demonstrates that Etihad Airways' strategy of organic growth, wide-ranging partnerships and strategic equity investments is delivering for us and our partners."

He said revenue from code-share and equity partners jumped by 34 per cent from $136m to $182m in the first three months of the year and represented 20 per cent of total revenue in the quarter.

"As well as increasing top-line revenue, our equity partnerships will improve bottom-line results, through cost savings delivered by operational synergies," Mr Hogan added.

Etihad's equity stakes in Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus also delivered profitable results during the first quarter of the year.

In February, Etihad announced a $42m profit for last year with revenues of $4.8bn and passenger numbers breaking 10 million for the first time.

The airline bucked the global trend in air cargo, with Etihad Cargo posting new highs in the first quarter. Volumes were up 20 per cent, on capacity growth of 19 per cent, driven by a strong performances in north-east Asia, an Etihad spokesman said.

"Etihad Cargo also took delivery of a new Boeing 777 Freighter, which was deployed on European and African routes during the quarter. A second Boeing 747 freighter entered the fleet at the end of March, taking the total cargo fleet to eight aircraft," the spokesman added. "The new twice-weekly freighter operation from Houston to Abu Dhabi enhanced the results."

The results follow what Etihad called its "Big Switch" last month, in which the airline started using a more comprehensive online passenger sales, website, and check-in system, launched daily flights to Washington Dulles Airport and opened a $6.8m premier lounge at the facility.