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Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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Etihad Says Turnaround Still On Track Despite Covid-19 Setback

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Etihad Airways reported passenger revenues in 2020 declined 74 percent year over year to $1.2 billion, though the carrier still is planning for a “complete turnaround” by 2023.

The revenue drop stemmed from a 76 percent drop in passengers for the year, down from 17.5 million in 2019 to 4.2 million last year, and a 64 percent decrease year over year in capacity. Passenger services were shut down completely in and out of the United Arab Emirates from the end of March to early June, and more than 80 percent of the carrier’s passengers for the year flew the airline in the first quarter.

Cargo operations offset a bit of the revenue drop, as cargo revenue increased 66 percent year over year to $1.2 billion. For the full year, Etihad reported an operating loss of $1.7 billion, compared with a loss of $800 million in 2019.

Even prior to the pandemic, Etihad had reported several years of losses but had been restructuring to turn its business around. That has accelerated amid the Covid-19 crisis, according to the carrier.

“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,” Etihad CEO Tony Douglas said in a statement.

Near the end of 2020, Abu Dhabi reopened to tourists from select countries, and the carrier soon will be starting its first service to Tel Aviv as the two countries agreed to open up air service last year as part of the Abraham Accords. In a recent piece for the New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman noted that more than 130,000 Israelis had visited the UAE since the accords.

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