Etihad Airways 2012 profit surges 200%

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Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said full-year net profits for 2012 increased 200 percent to US$42m, as it carried more passengers and pushed ahead with strategic alliances with other international carriers.

The UAE flag carrier, which has expanded globally through stake purchases in the likes of airberlin and Virgin Australia, said revenue increased 17 percent to US$4.8bn, while passengers rose 23 percent to 10.3m.

“It’s been strong organic growth in our own right because every year the Etihad brand continues to mature and continues to improve,” James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways, told Arabian Business.

“In regards to our codeshare strategy – our 40 codeshare partners – and our equity investment partners, they represent 20 percent of our total revenues and the key there is stretching our network at the end of our system,” he added.

Equity and codeshare partners added 1.2m passengers to the airline’s network during the 12-month period. Etihad’s stake in German carrier airberlin contributed an additional 300,000 passengers and US$130m to the two airline’s networks.

Cargo tonnage for the full year increased 19 percent, said the airline.

Etihad Airways, which posted profits of US$14m for 2011, is looking to extend its geographical reach as it competes against Qatar Airways and Dubai’s Emirates Airline.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier is currently in talks with Jet Airways to purchase a stake in the Indian airline and recently doubled its stake in Virgin Australia to 10 percent.

The airline said it has secured more than US$6.8bn in cumulative funding for its expansion and will continue to grow its network as well as other strategic alliances.

“We had 70 aircraft at the end of last year and we are taking another 14 aircraft this year. We’re taking over approximately over 100 aircraft over the next 7-8 years so we continue to grow organically in our own right,” said Hogan.

“In markets where we are bilaterally constrained and have to wait that’s where we look at equity partnerships,” he added.

The airline, which hedged 80 percent of its fuel costs during 2012, said it is hedged until 2015. “We have a three-year rolling fuel hedging programme so we’re hedged into 2014 and 2015,” said Hogan.

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