Etihad reports $870m loss in 2019

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Abu Dhabi’s long-troubled national carrier Etihad has reported losses of $US870 million ($A1.3 billion) in 2019 after losing billions in recent years, calling the result “encouraging”.

Since 2016, Etihad has lost a total of $US5.62 billion as its strategy of aggressively buying stakes in airlines from Europe to Australia to compete against Dubai-based Emirates and fellow rival Qatar Airways exposed the company to major losses.

The company has since started to claw its way out of financial trouble.

In February, Etihad announced it would sell 38 aircraft to an investment firm and a leasing company in a deal valued at $US1 billion. It was not immediately clear if that revenue was included in its 2019 results.

“There’s still some way to go but progress made in 2019, and cumulatively since 2017, has instilled in us a renewed vigour and determination to push ahead and implement the changes needed to continue this positive trajectory,” Etihad chief executive Tony Douglas said on Thursday.

By comparison, Etihad lost $US1.28 billion in 2018. Etihad reported losses of $US1.52 billion for 2017 and $US1.95 billion in 2016.

Etihad reported revenues of $US5.6 billion compared with $US5.9 billion in 2018. It carried 17.5 million passengers last year, down from 17.8 million in 2018.

It attributed the lower revenues to cutting back on routes as part of its restructuring plans.

Etihad also has restructured planned aircraft purchases from Airbus and Boeing. It said its fleet now has 101 aircraft in it, down from 106 the year before.

Abu Dhabi’s rulers launched Etihad in 2003, competing with the established Dubai government-owned carrier Emirates that flies out of Dubai International Airport only 115km away.

In 2018, Etihad began lending pilots to Emirates under a new program.

Both Emirates and Etihad have seen business hurt by President Donald Trump’s travel bans affecting Muslim-majority nations.