Dialogue: Rasha Tabila
Tony Douglas, CEO of Etihad Aviation Group, revealed that the airline recorded historic results in the first quarter of this year that it had not previously recorded, after reaching $ 290 million (1.06 billion dirhams) in pre-tax, interest and amortization profits. and is expected to record a strong performance during the first half of this year, amid a large influx of reserves for the summer season, which predicts strong performance and growth that exceeds last year’s results.
In an interview with Etihad, during the carrier’s participation in the World Aviation Industry Summit in Abu Dhabi, Douglas said that Etihad Airways recorded a seat occupancy rate of 77% in May, which exceeded what was recorded. in the same period of 2019, which confirms the significant increase in demand for travel.
He added: In May 2020, we recorded 24 percent in seat occupancy rates, while 75 percent was recorded in May 2021.
Douglas attributed the positive returns since the beginning of the year to “high occupancy rates, in addition to the stability of ticket prices, at a time when demand for goods increased significantly, especially with our transformation plan, which reduced costs.” operative. ”
Regarding the carrier network, Douglas said: “Through the transformation plan, we have reduced the destinations that are usually in demand for a period of no more than 4 months a year, at a time when we started last year launching seasonal flights that prove strong. summer demand like the islands of Mykanos and Santorni in Greece Malaga in Spain and Zanzibar, except Nice in France and Crete.
Douglas added: “During the pandemic, we reviewed our network of destinations twice a week because of the rapid and frequent changes that were taking place in travel restrictions and procedures, whereas before the pandemic we reviewed them almost on a monthly basis.”
“Therefore, we monitor and follow travel procedures and restrictions, housing rates and demand on an ongoing basis,” he said.
Etihad Airways currently operates 68 aircraft, including 5 cargo, and flies to around 67 destinations worldwide.
The company carried 3.5 million passengers last year and the seat occupancy rate was about 39.6%, as the occupant occupancy rate doubled during the second half of last year, reaching 70.1% in December, thanks to the maximum demand for travel during the winter holidays. The company also recorded a strong increase in passenger numbers during the fourth quarter of last year, following easing requirements and mandatory quarantine periods in the Abu Dhabi Emirates.
On achieving profitability, Douglas said: “As we mentioned earlier, we expect to achieve profitability next year, and that depends on travel demand, constraints, etc. If strong performance continues, as was achieved in the first quarter, we can achieve the profit target is faster than that. ”
According to Etihad Airways results for 2021, it witnessed a strong recovery in the level of passenger operations, coupled with a significant improvement in financial performance, reducing operating losses to $ 476 million (compared to losses of $ 1.70 billion. during 2020).
With the lifting of travel restrictions for Abu Dhabi, Douglas said: “We expect an active tourist participation for the upcoming tourist season, as Abu Dhabi is a global tourist destination that includes many distinct tourist attractions.”
Regarding the company’s transformation plan for 2017, Douglas stressed: “We are doing well in implementing this plan, as we have managed to reduce costs and have been able to have a more stable and efficient fleet, which is from Boeing B787 aircraft and Airbus A350. . ”
He continued, “We focus our plan on sustainability through a specialized sustainability agenda that builds a solid foundation for future generations.”
He stressed that success in achieving sustainability does not only fall on the shoulders of airlines or manufacturers, but should be joint efforts between different actors for the success of achieving sustainability goals.
“We aim to reduce carbon emissions through Etihad Airways’ Sustainability 50 and Greenliner programs,” he said, adding: “Today we have a fleet of 39 B787 aircraft and 5 new A350 aircraft that will be operational this year.”
Douglas stressed, “We are moving towards becoming the most stable Etihad Airways fleet in the world.”
Douglas referred to initiatives that have been launched regarding sustainability along with the fleet, the world’s first green loyalty program and the launch of a new generation of economy class food and beverage services that aim to remove 80% of disposable plastics.
The airline continues on its way to achieving the goal it pledged in 2019 to reach zero carbon emissions by 2031, and thanks to the launch of a wide range of sustainability initiatives and the activation of new operational programs to achieve efficiency, Etihad Airways was able to reduce its carbon emissions from the passenger fleet by 5.6% during 2021.
Etihad Airways has completed the world’s largest eco-flight experience program, with 42 flights operating over 5 days last month to test efficiency, technology and operational measures related to sustainability that would reduce carbon emissions. The program, which took place in conjunction with Earth Day, which corresponds to April 22, included 22 trips to avoid condensation paths over a period of 3 days.