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The situation over at Etihad Airways is becoming dire as the carrier just posted another huge loss of $1.28 billion for FY 2018 which is their third consecutive billion dollar loss.

In total the carrier has now amassed a $4.8 Billion dollar deficit over the course of just three years which is truly mind blowing considering that carriers have previously folded for much less.

Etihad is in a unique position as the company has not only incurred heavy operational losses but also entangled themselves in expensive joint ventures and investments, many of which went belly up and cost the company a ton of money such as Alitalia and the now defunct Air Berlin.

Etihad has published the news under the laughable headline of “Etihad Airways Improves Core Performance in 2018 as Transformation Continues” (access here).

Etihad Airways today announced an improvement in core operating performance of 15% in 2018, 7% higher than forecast, on revenues of US$ 5.86 billion (2017: US$ 6.0 billion). The airline reported a loss of US$ 1.28 billion for the year (2017: US$ -1.52 billion). …

Etihad carried 17.8 million passengers in 2018 (2017: 18.6m), with a 76.4% seat factor (2017: 78.5%) and a decrease in passenger capacity (Available Seat Kilometres (ASK)) of 4% (from 115.0 billion to 110.3 billion).

The airline increased yields by 4%, largely driven by capacity discipline, network and fleet optimisation and growing market share in premium and point-to-point markets. Passenger revenues remained steady at US$ 5.0 billion. …

The airline significantly reduced total costs by US$ 416 million to US$ 6.9 billion (2017: US$ 7.3bn). Direct operating costs were reduced by US$ 226 million (3.6%) despite ongoing fuel price volatility. Administration and general expenses declined by US$ 190 million (19%), mainly driven by lower indirect manpower and other administration costs.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, said: “In 2018, we continued to forge ahead with our transformation journey by streamlining our cost base, improving our cash-flow and strengthening our balance sheet.

“Our transformation is instilling a renewed sense of confidence in our customers, our partners and our people. As a major enabler of commerce and tourism to and from Abu Dhabi, we are intrinsically linked to the continued success of the emirate.”

If the last sentence rings true then Etihad is really in trouble as Abu Dhabi really isn’t doing well either at the moment. Overall this entire communique is discomforting to say the least.

Here are the results for 2018 in numbers:

The overall passenger numbers in total are actually down at the moment compared to the previous year with the revenue remaining the same. The yield therefore improved which is probably the only positive sign in the whole calamity – not that it helped them a lot.

Etihad has reduced the number of aircraft and also cut some routes last year resulting in the above numbers. Cargo numbers dropped significantly.

The carrier has also cancelled orders of new aircraft with both Boeing and Airbus.

Conclusion

I don’t see an improvement for Etihad Airways on the horizon. Performance of the Emirates including Abu Dhabi hasn’t been great in recent years.

There is also more trouble brewing over Air Berlin as the German Insolvency Administrator sued Etihad for 2 Billion Euro in damages resulting from Etihad cutting off funding to the German carrier after previously providing a Letter of Guarantee. Following this, Etihad has countersued the Admistrator in a British court.

However this may play out it’s not a positive situation for Etihad. They don’t have anything to gain in this legal action, just to lose and the loss might potentially be substantial.

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