Etihad Airways has reported a loss of US$1.7 billion for the 2020 financial year, accelerating the losses of US $0.8 billion seen last year, even as the Abu Dhabi based carrier blamed the COVID-19 for its deteriorating fortunes.
The airline saw a 76 per cent fall in passengers carried throughout the year, down to 4.2 million from 17.5 million in 2019.
This was a result of lower demand and reduced flight capacity caused by the unparalleled global downturn in commercial aviation, the carrier said.
Total passenger capacity was reduced by 64 per cent in 2020 to 37.5 billion available seat kilometres, down from 104 billion in 2019, with the seat load factor declining to 53 per cent, 25.8 percentage points lower compared to 2019.
The airline recorded US $1.2 billion passenger revenues in 2020, down by 74 per cent from US $4.8 billion in 2019, due to fewer scheduled services and drastically fewer people travelling.
A contributing factor to this was the total suspension of passenger services into and out of the UAE from end of March until early June last year to limit the spread of COVID-19, in line with a UAE government mandate.
More than 80 per cent of total passengers carried in 2020 were flown during the first three months of the year, demonstrating the precipitous drop in demand as the global crisis deepened over the course of the year.
Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer, Etihad, said: “COVID-19 shook the very foundation of the aviation industry, but thanks to our dedicated people and the support of our shareholder, Etihad stood firm and is ready to play a key role as the world returns to flying.
“While nobody could have predicted how 2020 would unfold, our focus on optimising core business fundamentals over the past three years put Etihad in good stead to respond decisively to the global crisis.
“We have taken bold action to protect our people and our guests, develop an industry-leading health and hygiene programme, and restructure our business to better position us for recovery.”