By Sarah Townsend
Airline says carried 18.5 million people in 2016 and saw 9 percent capacity rise
Etihad Airways has reported an increase in passengers and capacity in its 2016 review, despite a turbulent year for the Abu Dhabi-based airline.
The airline said it delivered “another year of sustained growth”, carrying 18.5 million people in 2016 – up six percent on 2015.
Passenger traffic, measured by revenue passenger kilometres (RPKM), rose by eight percent, Etihad said, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKM), grew by nine percent. The average load factor held steady at 79 percent.
During the year, Etihad Airways operated more than 109,000 scheduled passenger and cargo flights spanning around 446 million kilometres and 112 destinations.
This represents 76 percent of the total passengers who travelled to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2016. With the addition of the airline’s equity partners, the combined total rises to 86 percent of passenger traffic at the airport, Etihad said.
The airline took delivery of 10 new aircraft over the course of the year – three Airbus A380s, five Boeing 787s and two Boeing 777-200 cargo freighters.
An additional 12 aircraft are set for delivery in 2017, including nine Boeing 787s, two Airbus A380s and one A330-200 freighter. The total fleet of 119 aircraft is one of the youngest and most environmentally-friendly in the industry, with an average age of six years.
New destinations were added to the airline’s route network in 2016, including Venice, Rabat and Sabiha Gokcen in Turkey. It also began deploying the A380 on services to Mumbai and Melbourne, and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on new services to Perth, Shanghai, Johannesburg and Dusseldorf.
The year-in-review report added that the airline holds the strongest credit rating in the aviation industry (‘A’, according to Fitch).
However, Etihad in December announced a restructuring to save costs in “weakened global economic conditions”. It plans to cut jobs in some parts of its business as part of the strategy, while group president and CEO James Hogan is to step down in the second half of this year.
Hogan’s departure is part of a transition process first initiated in May 2016 when Etihad Aviation Group was formed after a corporate restructuring process, the company said.
Hogan said of the 2016 review: “2016 saw sustained growth in a very tough business environment. This is where Etihad Airways’ superior products and services show their true value and where the strength of the EAG business model comes into effect through its diversity of businesses, cost effective synergies and global spread of risk.
“Most importantly, in 2016 we were able to introduce our new group structure, which positions this business for long-term growth and development.”