Etihad Airways has reported a core operating loss of $1.7 billion in 2020, compared to a loss of $800,000 million in 2019, as the pandemic devastated international travel.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier said its earnings before interest and taxes (Ebitda) fell from $450,000 in 2019 to an Ebitda loss of $650,000 last year.

It carried 4.2 million passengers – down by 76% on 17.5 million in 2019. Its seat load factor was 53%, compared to 79% in 2019.

Passenger revenues fell 74% year-on-year to $1.3 billion, “due to fewer scheduled services and drastically fewer people travelling”.

Passenger services to and from the United Arab Emirates were suspended from the end of March until early June 2020 to limit the spread of Covid-19.

More than 80% of 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”, said the airline.


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Tony Douglas, group chief executive, said: “Covid 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.

“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.

“As the world’s first airline to vaccinate all our operating pilots and cabin crew against Covid, we are ready to welcome back travellers to experience best-in-class travel with Etihad Airways.”

Adam Boukadida, chief financial officer, said: “We started the year on a firm footing by surpassing our transformation targets for Q1 and were looking forward to a strong performance for the year ahead – and then the pandemic took hold.

“As passenger revenues nosedived, we took immediate action to secure Etihad’s long-term financial health, with a wide range of measures to mitigate the impact of Covid on our business.”