MIAMI – Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways (EY) has today announced pandemic-impacted financial and operating results for 2020.

The carrier saw a 76 percent drop in passengers carried — 4.2 million, compared to 17.5 million in 2019 — as a result of lower demand from the global downturn in commercial aviation.

The airline reported in its earnings news release that, due to COVID and the related flight and travel restrictions, total passenger capacity was reduced by 64 percent in 2020 while the load factor declined to 52.9 percent, a drop of 25.8 percentage points compared to 2019. 

The airline recorded US$1.2bn in passenger revenues in 2020, down 74 percent from US$4.8bn in 2019. Overall, this resulted in a core operating loss of US$1.7bn.

Etihad Airways Cargo A6-DCB Airbus A330-243F. Photo: Francesco Cecchetti/Airways

Cargo Boost

Like many global carriers, Etihad’s cargo operation surged, with a 66 percent increase in revenue from US$700m in 2019 to US$1.2bn in 2020, driven by the huge demand for medical supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and pharmaceuticals, paired with limited global airfreight capacity. The airline operated 183 cargo charters, ferrying more than 2,755 tons of essential cargo to 129 countries.

The airline is targeting a turnaround by 2023, according to the news release.

“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,” said Tony Douglas, the group’s CEO.

“While nobody could have predicted how 2020 would unfold, our focus on optimizing 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 program, 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 travelers.”

The airline’s total workforce stood at 13,587 employees at the end of 2020, down one-third from 20,369 the year before.

Featured image: Etihad Airways A6-APH Airbus A380-861. Photo: Tony Bordelais/Airways