Etihad Airways says its operational performance improved in 2018, but the carrier still posted a loss of US$1.28 billion.

The figure is lower than the $1.52 billion loss reported in 2017, largely due to a 15 per cent increase in revenue to $5.86 billion. The airline also managed a 3 per cent reduction in unit costs despite fuel prices growing 31 per cent.

Etihad says it has improved its performance by 34 per cent since launching a five-year transformation programme in 2017 “despite challenging market conditions” and the growth in fuel prices.

The airline carried 17.8 million passengers in 2018, down from 18.6 million in the previous year due to a 4 per cent decrease in capacity in available seat kilometres (ASK). Passenger revenues remained steady at $5 billion.

Regardless of the rise in fuel prices, Etihad reported a drop in total costs from $7.3 billion in 2017 to $6.9 billion last year.

Group CEO Tony Douglas said: “In 2018, we continued to forge ahead with our transformation journey by streamlining our cost base, improving our cash flow and strengthening our balance sheet.

“Our transformation is instilling a renewed sense of confidence in our customers, our partners and our people. As a major enabler of commerce and tourism to and from Abu Dhabi, we are intrinsically linked to the continued success of the emirate.

“Etihad remains a strong global aviation brand and a true representative of Abu Dhabi around the world. We are committed to developing commercially beneficial partnerships at home and overseas, creating a multicultural workplace which is an exemplar of inclusion, gender equality and innovation. This is particularly important in the UAE’s Year of Tolerance.”

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