Etihad Airways said today it was on track to carry 10 million passengers this year, as seat revenues jumped by over 50 per cent in the past three months and its partner airlines outperformed management forecasts.
Etihad flies towards 10 million passengers in 2012 as revenues soar
The national airline of the UAE said its third quarter results showed total revenues of US$1.3 billion, (Dh4.77bn) up 19 per cent on the third quarter of 2011, with record passenger revenues at $182 million, up from $121m.
Driving the figures were passenger numbers, up 23 per cent, with 2.79m travellers carried in the quarter compared to 2.27m for the same period last year. The airline also delivered a record load factor (the number of seats sold per flight), with an average seat occupancy of 81.2 per cent, the best ever quarterly performance.
"Etihad Airways remains confident of achieving full year profitability for the second year running. Our third quarter saw continued progress across the business, with all key indicators showing strong performance and we remain confident of delivering full year profitability based on current market conditions," said James Hogan, Etihad Airways' President and Chief Executive Officer
"We are particularly pleased with the contribution from our codeshare and equity partners. This component of our strategy is delivering a strong and growing revenue stream, complementing our own double-digit organic growth."
Air Berlin, in which Etihad Airways holds a 29.21 per cent equity stake, has generated $51m in revenues to Etihad Airways so far this year, surpassing the initial full year estimates, and both airlines have delivered a combined total of more than 150,000 passengers into each other's networks so far this year.
Air Seychelles, in which Etihad holds a 40 per cent stake, remains on track to break even in 2012, in the first year of Etihad Airways' five-year management contract after several years of heavy losses.
Virgin Australia, in which Etihad Airways now holds a 10 per cent stake, delivered codeshare revenues to Etihad Airways up 16 per cent year-on-year.
Total revenue from codeshare partners represented 18 per cent of Etihad Airways' total passenger revenue in the quarter.
During the quarter, Etihad Airways signed interline and codeshare agreements with Aer Lingus, China Eastern Airlines and RAK Airways, further expanding the network's footprint.
Cargo revenues were significantly ahead of last year, up six per cent to $181.6m. Etihad Cargo carried 93,560 tonnes of freight in Q3, 18 per cent more than in the corresponding period last year.
Fuel remained the single largest operating cost for the business and represented 37 per cent of total expenditure for the quarter.
"We continue to face an incredibly tough operating environment. Fuel prices remain high and the global economy still carries challenges," James Hogan added. "The Eurozone remains in trouble and there is still some softness in a number of Middle Eastern markets.
"However, the wide segmentation of our business is helping to ensure our continued profitable growth. Australia and our major Asian markets are performing strongly. Our routes into China - Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu - are showing particular potential, which will be further boosted by the strong growth of connecting markets into Africa and our codeshares."
Etihad launched daily services to Lagos during the third quarter, with new routes to open to Ahmedabad and Addis Ababa in November, and new routes to Washington DC, Sao Paolo and Ho Chi Minh City in 2013.
Also rapidly growing is the number of UAE nationals working for Etihad Airways, with the 1,000th Emirati member of staff joining the company, making UAE nationals the largest nationality group at 21 per cent of the airline's core employee workforce.