ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways posted a loss in 2018 for the third year running, it said Thursday, blaming investment losses and challenging market conditions.
The airline, which has been undergoing restructuring since late 2017, said it had narrowed its losses in 2018 to $1.28 billion, from $1.52 billion the previous year.
Along with its 2016 losses, that adds up to total losses of $4.67 billion over three years, prompting the company to scrap dozens of orders on aircraft.
Established in 2003 by the oil-rich Gulf emirate’s government, the airliner has faced stiff competition from regional rivals, Dubai aviation giant Emirates and Doha-based Qatar Airways.
Etihad invested heavily in carriers around the world including Alitalia, airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and India’s Jet Airways, some of which have faced financial difficulties, causing Etihad heavy losses.
In late 2017, the company appointed Tony Douglas, a former British defence official, as its chief executive officer and launched a five-year restructuring process.
Douglas said Thursday the airline was “streamlining our cost base, improving our cash-flow and strengthening our balance sheet.”
The company said its financials had improved since the restructuring process began, despite “challenging market conditions and effects of an increase in fuel prices.”
Airlines in the Gulf have faced a double hit from oil price fluctuations and regional political tensions.
Etihad said it had agreed with aviation giants Airbus and Boeing to sharply reduce its orders, effectively cancelling dozens of aircraft.
It said that following negotiations, Etihad “will take delivery of five Airbus A350-1000, 26 Airbus A321neo and six Boeing 777-9 aircraft in the coming years”.
That implied it is cancelling orders for around 50 Airbus planes and around 20 Boeing jets.
Last year, the carrier took delivery of seven Boeing 787 and one Boeing 777, bringing its fleet to a total 106 planes of various makes and sizes.
Etihad transported 17.8 million passengers in 2018 down from 18.6 million in the previous year.
Its revenues last year dropped slightly to $5.9 billion, far below its 2015 revenues of $9 billion.