Etihad Airways recorded a strong recovery in passenger operations for 2021 in addition to a significant improvement in financial performance, posting a much-reduced loss of US$476 million for 2021 (2020: US$1.7 billion).
The carrier served 3.5 million passengers in 2021, with passenger loads doubling in the second half of the year. Etihad also recorded a particularly strong surge in passenger volumes in Q4 following the September relaxation of mandatory quarantine periods in Abu Dhabi.
The airline’s passenger revenue was US$1.07 billion in 2021, down by 14% year-on-year, and Etihad says that while ongoing travel restrictions and new variants of the virus dampened demand, it saw passenger revenues bounce back in the last quarter of the year, which recovered to 50% of 2019 levels in December.
Etihad’s cargo operations again outperformed expectations, with a 27% year-on-year increase in freight carried in 2021 and a rise in cargo revenues of 49% to US$1.73 billion, the highest figure in the history of the airline.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “In another year of global uncertainty, Etihad Airways has continued to move forward, strengthen its business, and build on its world-class travel proposition. As always, this has been thanks to our remarkable people who have gone above and beyond to make the most of every opportunity.
“Despite the slowdown caused by Omicron, we are confident that the spring and summer season will continue to see a resurgence in travel as more people return to the skies.
“We look forward to our guests being able to experience our state-of-the-art Airbus A350s when they debut later this year, taking pride of place alongside our Boeing 787s.
“With one of the most fuel-efficient fleets in the world and with sustainability at the very top of our agenda, we will continue to pave the way for more sustainable flying in 2022 and beyond.”
In 2021, Etihad also continued its Etihad Wellness programme, a service developed at the outbreak of the pandemic to ensure passenger health and well-being at every touchpoint, and to provide peace of mind when travelling.
The programme has continued to be championed by trained wellness ambassadors who provide guests with care and essential travel health information on the ground and on board flights, as well as initiatives to maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and sanitisation, with complimentary wellness kits and covid-19 insurance cover for passengers.