Abu Dhabi fast-growing carrier posts 200% rise in net profit

Game-changing year for Etihad Airways

ABU DHABI - Etihad Airways, the fast-growing carrier of Abu Dhabi, posted a 200 percent rise in net profit in 2012 and a 17 percent increase in revenues, the airline said in a statement on Monday.
Etihad posted a net income of $42 million last year compared to $14 million in 2011 when it made its first-ever profit, said the statement, which attributed the rise to strong improvements in revenues, passengers and cost control.
The Gulf carrier also said it was not considering cancelling any of its orders for 41 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, despite a worldwide grounding of the aircraft after a number of incidents.
The government-owned airline said it was discussing buying a stake in India's loss-making Jet Airways.
The flag carrier of the UAE capital said revenues increased to $4.8 billion in 2012 compared to $4.1 billion the previous year.
The number of passengers grew a healthy 23 percent to 10.3 million compared to 8.4 million in 2011, significantly boosted by Etihad's partnerships which delivered more than $600 million in total revenue.
"This has been a game-changing year for Etihad Airways," James Hogan, the airline's president and chief executive officer said in the statement.
"We have delivered improved net profit, the second consecutive year we have been in the black, a remarkable achievement given the youth, ambitious growth and ongoing investment made by this airline in a challenging global economic environment."
Etihad said it succeeded in building the first "equity alliance" with investments of 40 percent in Air Seychelles, 29.2 percent in airberlin, 9 percent in Virgin Australia and about 3 percent in Aer Lingus.
"We have taken great strides in building the industry's first equity alliance ... which (is) contributing significant value to our business," Hogan said.
Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose 24 percent to $170 million, while EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and rentals) rose to $753 million, up 16 percent, Etihad said.
Hogan said more than 50 institutions have provided around $6.8 billion in cumulative funding for the airline's ongoing expansion.
Planned fleet additions for 2013 include 14 aircraft -- 11 passenger aircraft and three freighters.
Hogan told reporters that Etihad was not planning to cancel any of its Dreamliner orders.
The Dreamliner faces a global no-fly order imposed by US regulators over incidents including a fire on a Japan Airlines plane in Boston and an emergency landing on an ANA flight in Japan.
"We have strong relationship with Boeing.
"The 787 is a great aircraft, and it is not unusual for a new aircraft to have technical issues. We have no doubts that these issues will be resolved," Hogan said.
Hogan also said Etihad was discussing a stake purchase of India's private carrier Jet Airways, a day after a similar announcement by Jet.
"We are undertaking due diligence. We met (different ministers) to understand the new rule of investment" in India, Hogan said.
At the end of 2012, Etihad had 10,656 employees, 18 percent more than in 2011, representing more than 125 nationalities.
Etihad Airways, which began operations in 2003, serves 86 passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.
It operates a fleet of 70 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and more than 90 aircraft on firm order, including 10 Airbus A380s, the world's largest passenger aircraft.