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Etihad Airways posts its fourth consecutive profitable year

Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) posted a fiscal year net profit of $73 million on total revenues of $7.6 billion, up 52.1 percent and 26.7 percent respectively over the previous year.

The airline continued:

Etihad logo-2

The record performance, which marked the airline’s fourth consecutive year of net profitability, also saw earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) up 32.5 per cent to $257 million. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization and rentals (EBITDAR) were up 16.2 percent to $1.1 billion, representing a 15 percent margin on total revenues.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said, “Our shareholder has set a clear commercial mandate for this business and we continue to deliver against that mandate. Our focus is on sustainable profitability and our fourth year of net profits, at a time when we continue to invest in the new routes, new aircraft, new product and new infrastructure needed to compete effectively, shows we are serious about that goal.

Etihad Airways carried a total of 14.8 million passengers in 2014, an increase of 22.3 percent year-on-year. Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPKs) – measuring passenger journeys – increased by 23.6 percent to 68.6 billion (55.5 billion), while Available Seat Kilometers (ASKs) – representing capacity – grew by 21.8 percent to 86.6 billion (71.1 billion). The growth in passenger demand and revenue over the 12-month period continued to outstrip Etihad Airways’ capacity increase, highlighting the strength of its long-term growth strategy.

Passenger numbers were strengthened by the continued enhancement of Etihad Airways’ global network last year. The airline launched services to 10 new destinations in eight countries – Los Angeles, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Rome, Zurich, Medina, Yerevan, Jaipur, Phuket and Perth – and increased capacity on 23 existing routes. By the end of the year, the average network-wide seat load factor was 79.2 per cent, compared to 78.0 per cent in 2013.

A key driver of Etihad Airways’ growth in 2014 was its partnership strategy, based on wide-ranging codeshares and its unique approach of minority equity investments in strategically important airlines. This has accelerated network growth, giving Etihad Airways the largest route network of any Middle Eastern carrier, reaching more than 500 destinations. It has boosted sales and marketing opportunities in key markets, as well as allowing significant business synergies and cost savings.

This strategy delivered revenues of $1.1 billion in 2014, an increase of 37.7 per cent (US$ 820 million), and represented 24 per cent of Etihad Airways’ total passenger revenues.

In 2014, Etihad Airways received final approval for its 49 percent investment in Air Serbia. It also invested €560 million to acquire a 49 per cent shareholding in new Alitalia, a 75 percent interest in Alitalia Loyalty, which operates the MilleMiglia frequent flier program, and the future purchase of five pairs of London Heathrow Airport slots for lease back to Alitalia. The transaction became effective on December 31, 2014, after receiving European Commission merger clearance.

Air Serbia and Alitalia are the latest additions to Etihad Airways’ equity partner network. Etihad Airways also owns minority stakes in Airberlin, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus (stake increased to 4.99 percent in 2014), Jet Airways and Virgin Australia (stake increased to 22.9 percent in 2014). An investment in Swiss-based Etihad Regional, operated by Darwin Airline, has now been formalized after Swiss Government approval earlier this year.

Etihad Airways launched new codeshare agreements with Air Europa, jetBlue Airways, Philippine Airlines, Gol, SAS, Hong Kong Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas, while Etihad Airways’ existing codeshares with South African Airways, Alitalia and Jet Airways were significantly expanded.

In addition, Etihad Airways Partners was unveiled last year, using a partnership cooperation model to offer passengers more choice through improved networks and schedules, plus enhanced frequent flyer benefits. The partnership also builds greater synergies for participating airlines, which currently include airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, Etihad Airways, Etihad Regional, Jet Airways and NIKI.

Etihad Airways’ fleet consisted of 110 aircraft at the end of 2014 (up 23.6 per cent year-on-year), with an average age of 5.5 years, one of the youngest in the sky. The airline took delivery of its first Airbus A380 and its first Boeing 787-9 in December, with both state-of-the-art aircraft offering new industry leading standards in cabin interiors, together with considerable fuel efficiency and environmental improvements.

An additional nine Airbus aircraft (two A330-200s, three A321s, three A320s and one A330-200F) and six Boeing aircraft (one 777-300 ER, five 777-200 LRs) were received in 2014, while further leased capacity was also added to enhance the airline’s rapid growth.

More than 200 aircraft are currently on firm order, together with options and purchase rights for 66 additional aircraft. In 2015, Etihad Airways plans to introduce 16 aircraft into its fleet, including nine wide-bodies (one Boeing 777-300 ER, four Boeing 787 Dreamliners and four Airbus A380s) and seven narrow-body Airbus A320 family aircraft (six A321s and one A320).

Mr Hogan added: “Our ability to provide guests with the best possible service was strengthened by a number of important developments last year, including the arrival of our first Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft, the introduction of our ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ livery, the launch of The Residence by Etihad™ and our next-generation First, Business and Economy products, and a sophisticated new uniform, as showcased to the world last year.”

In January 2014, the airline conducted a milestone demonstration flight with a Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft, powered in part by the first UAE-produced aviation biofuel.

Mr Hogan said, “Although our growth continued strictly to plan in 2014, we are currently faced with unprecedented external challenges. Of particular concern has been the rise in aggressive protectionist sentiment in Europe and the US, where both Etihad Airways and its partner airlines are being targeted. These attempts to limit competition are detrimental to consumer choice. They threaten to damage the significant progress that our airline has made in offering improved travel connections, product and service standards, and value for money.

“Despite these hurdles, Etihad Airways will continue to grow as planned in 2015, working with our equity and codeshare partners around the world to serve the destinations that our guests want to visit and at the times they want to travel.”

Etihad Airways employed 24,206 people from 144 nationalities by the end of 2014, an increase of 37.5 per cent compared to the previous year.

Copyright Photo below: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A330-202 A6-AGB (msn 831) taxies at Amsterdam.

Etihad Airways aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show