Etihad Airways loses $1.28B in 2018 in third year of losses

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said Thursday it lost $1.28 billion in 2018, the third-straight year the government-owned long-haul carrier has lost over a billion dollars.

Since 2016, Etihad has lost a total of $4.75 billion as its strategy of aggressively buying stakes in airlines from Europe to Australia to compete against Emirates and fellow rival Qatar Airways exposed the company to major losses.

In the time since, it has embarked on a cost-cutting initiative and recently announced it would restructure planned aircraft purchases from Airbus and Boeing.

“Our transformation is instilling a renewed sense of confidence in our customers, our partners and our people,” Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas said in a statement announcing the results.

The airline reported revenues of $5.86 billion in 2018, down from $6 billion in 2017. It flew 17.8 million passengers last year, down from 18.6 million the year prior.

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Previously, Etihad reported losses of $1.52 billion for 2017 and $1.95 billion in 2016. It blamed “challenging market conditions and effects of an increase in fuel prices” in part for the loss in 2018.

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 115 kilometers (70 miles) away. Last year, Etihad began loaning pilots to Emirates under a new program.

In February, Etihad said that it will take delivery of five Airbus A350-1000, 26 Airbus A321neos and six Boeing 777-9 aircraft “over the coming years.” The airline said it also will continue to accept its orders for Boeing 787 Dreamliners, without elaborating.

It said its remaining orders will be affected by “rescheduling, restructuring or reduction.” In its 2013 purchase, Etihad made orders for 87 Airbus and 56 Boeing aircraft. Etihad currently has a fleet of 106 aircraft.

Both Emirates and Etihad have seen business hurt by President Donald Trump’s travel bans affecting Muslim-majority nations and stricter rules on electronics in cabins.

The two airlines are government-owned carriers in the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula. Both compete in the long-haul carrier market, using their nation’s location between East and West to their advantage.

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