Etihad Airways has released its H1 2020 performance report, which saw a strong start to the year.
The airline saw its best monthly results to date for February, prior to the impact of COVID-19, the subsequent closure of international borders and the suspension of flights to and from the UAE from March.
Etihad Airways carried 3.5 million passengers in H1, a reduction of 58 per cent from the same period the previous year. Average seat load factor was 71 per cent, while core operating loss for this period increased by $172 million to $758 million, driven by a 38 per cent per cent drop in revenues, which stood at US$ 1.7 billion. This was partially off-set by a 27 per cent reduction in direct operating costs to $1.9 billion, and a 21 per cent reduction in general and administrative expenses to $ 0.40 billion.
Cargo revenues totalled to $0.49 billion, an improvement of $130 million (37 per cent) compared to the same period in 2019, with 254,345 leg tonnes of cargo carried. This was driven by an increase in demand and a spike in cargo fares.
The core operating result for the first three months of the year improved by 34 per cent, despite the onset of COVID-19, with a 12 per cent reduction in passenger numbers, and a 9.5 per cent reduction in ASK. Q1 seat load factor was 74 per cent (January’s performance was significantly stronger than the same month in 2019, with a seat load factor of 81.9 per cent).
CEO, Etihad Aviation Group, Tony Douglas declared: “Etihad Airways faced a set of enormous and unpredictable challenges in the first six months of the year. We started 2020 strong and recorded encouraging results, as part of our continuing transformation programme. This left us in a relatively robust position when COVID-19 hit, allowing us to act with agility, and to mobilise all available resources as the crisis deepened, taking major steps to reduce costs through a wide-reaching series of measures.”
Etihad operated up to 40 of its fleet of 97 passenger aircraft in Q2, including Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 777-300ERs, and Airbus A320 family aircraft as belly-hold cargo freighters to complement Etihad Cargo’s operational fleet of six 777-200F freighters. Between March 25 and June 15, over 640 special passenger flights were operated to 45 online and offline destinations, using the passenger cabins of these aircraft to fly foreign nationals out of the UAE, and to bring UAE nationals back home.
Douglas concluded: “While we have revised our outlook for the rest of 2020 based on current realities, we remain optimistic that as international borders reopen, we will increase our flying and carry more guests securely and with greater peace of mind, supported by the Etihad Wellness programme and our new Wellness Ambassadors. By September, we aim to increase our worldwide flights to half our pre-COVID-19 capacity.”