Etihad Targets 2023 Turnaround After Virus Doubles Annual Loss

Etihad Airways doubled its operating loss to $1.7 billion last year, after a multi-year turnaround effort at the Gulf carrier was interrupted by the coronavirus crisis.

Abu-Dhabi-based Etihad said in a statement Thursday that operating revenues halved in 2020 as passenger numbers plunged 76% to just 4.2 million. Still, it said it expects to complete the restructuring by 2023.

State-owned Etihad has been shrinking its operations for the past few years as it retreats from a strategy of transporting people between continents via a Mideast super-hub to focus more on the needs of its home territory. The latest losses take the deficit for the past five years above $7 billion.

Etihad was ahead of targets set in 2017 prior to the pandemic, registering a 55% cumulative improvement in core results that continued into the start of last year. Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas said those measures helped the company “respond decisively to the global crisis,” and that an acceleration of the restructuring should allow it to emerge as a leaner business.

Etihad plans to rebuild operations around smaller twin-aisle jets once coronavirus lockdowns ease. In 2020, it focused flights on the Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner, with most of the rest of the fleet parked.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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