Etihad Targeting 2023 Turnaround As Losses Pile Up
Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways is targeting a return to profit in 2023, despite a more than doubling in core operating losses last year, after accelerating its restructuring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state carrier, which started a five-year turnaround plan three years ago, said that it has shed 33% of its workforce, reducing it to 13,587.
Etihad, which grounded most of its fleet between March and June, recorded a core operating loss of $1.7 billion for 2020.
That was the airline's fifth consecutive annual loss, though it said that it had been ahead of turnaround targets in the first quarter before the pandemic struck global travel.
Analysts expect that it will take the industry several years to recover.
Annual operating revenue fell by 52% to $2.7 billion, Etihad said in a statement. Passenger traffic plunged by 76% to 4.2 million, with over 80% travelling in the first quarter.
The airline's operations are entirely dependent on international travel. It does not operate domestic routes that could provide a cushion against border closures.
Abu Dhabi has also imposed tight entry restrictions into the emirate, requiring many visitors to quarantine on arrival.
Aviation has been one of the industries worst hit by the COVID-19 crisis, forcing airlines to lay off staff and seek government bailouts.
Etihad chief executive Tony Douglas thanked its shareholder, the Abu Dhabi government, for the support it has given the airline, without specifying what exactly it has provided.
Splurge In Spending And Accumulated Losses
Etihad started its turnaround drive as losses piled up after a splurge in spending aimed at competing with major Gulf carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways. It has accumulated losses of approximately $7.3 billion since 2016.