Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways reported a net profit of $73 million for 2014, up 52.1% from the $48 million reported for 2013.

The UAE airline said the results were its fourth consecutive year of profit and its “strongest to date,” largely attributable to a 26.7% increase in total revenue driven by strong passenger and freight demand. Revenue for the year reached $7.6 billion, with growth in passenger traffic outstripping capacity increases.

Etihad president and CEO James Hogan 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.”

Passenger numbers in 2014 increased 22.3% year-over-year to 14.8 million, with RPKs up 23.6% to 68.6 billion. ASKs were up 21.8% to 86.6 billion, and load factor up 1.2 percentage points to 79.2%. Cargo revenue was up 19.2% to $1.1 billion, with freight and mail volumes rising from 487,000 to 569,000 tonnes.

Hogan said that a key driver of Etihad’s growth in 2014 was its partnership strategy, including minority equity investments in strategically important airlines, which generated revenues of $1.1 billion in 2014, an increase of 37.7% year-on-year, accounting for 24% of Etihad’s total passenger revenues. The airline has equity stakes in Air Serbia, Alitalia, airberlin, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, and Swiss-based Etihad Regional, operated by Darwin Airline.

Hogan said that, “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.”

A report just published by global consultancy Oxford Economics suggested that Etihad will contribute $2.9 billion to the US economy and support 23,400 American jobs in 2015. Commissioned by the airline, the report—“The economic impact of Etihad Airways on the US economy—projects that by 2020, Etihad’s operating expenditure and capital investments in the US will almost double, to support 46,200 American jobs and deliver $6.2 billion a year.

It says that, since 2004, Etihad has introduced or ordered almost 120 Boeing aircraft at a current list price of $36.5 billion, and has also chosen US suppliers for equipment ranging from cabin interiors to inflight entertainment systems.

The report also pointed out that, in 2014, Etihad delivered 182,000 connecting passengers onto US airlines, a figure that is forecast to increase 65% to reach approximately 300,000 this year.

Etihad VP-international and public affairs Vijay Poonoosamy said: “Put into perspective, that’s equivalent to five full Boeing 737-800 flights every day of the year.”

Oxford Economics valued the economic benefits of connectivity between the US and destinations in the Etihad network at $410 million this year, rising to an expected $850 million by 2020.

Source: atwonline.com/ 2015-05-28

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