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Etihad Posts a US$ 1.5 Billion Loss in 2017, May Defer or Cancel 777X

UAE's flag carrier Etihad Airways has today announced their financial result for 2017. The airline has posted a 1.52 Billion US-Dollar net loss, a reduction by one fourth compared to the previous year. Revenue income increased by 2% to US$ 6.1bn, up from US$ 5.9bn in 2016. It is important however to note that these figures do not include any one-off payments.

Fuel costs increased by US$ 337mn while a strong focus on efficiency resulted in a 7.3% reduction in unit costs. General expenses decreased by 14%, making for a US$ 162 million reduction in administrative costs.

Etihad Airways transported 18.6 million passengers at a 78.5% load factor. Available Seat Kilometres (ASKs) increased by 1% in 2017, a clear sign of small capacity growth which also contributed to an improvement in revenues. Cargo capacity however was down by 6%, noteworthy is that revenue declined only marginally, down 0.8%, driven by stronger load factors and yields. Etihad Cargo carried 552,000 tonnes of cargo in 2017. The airline sent five A330-200F to storage at the beginning of 2018 and most of them have been out of service for several months before heading off to storage.

Chairman of Etihad's board, H.E. Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei said in a statement: “Our airline continues to be a key driver of Abu Dhabi’s vision to develop its tourism sector, grow commerce and strengthen links to key regional and international markets", adding: “This was a pivotal year in Etihad’s transformation journey. Everybody worked extremely hard to navigate the challenges we faced. We made significant progress in driving improved performance and we are on track in 2018.

CEO Tony Douglas reaffirmed his positivity about the airline's situation, saying that "these are solid first steps in an ongoing journey to transform this business into one that is positioned for financially sustainable growth over the long term."

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These statements are in complete opposite of news which broke yesterday about Etihad. It was reported that the airline is in talks with Boeing regarding a possible deferring or cancellation of their order for Boeing's latest generation widebody, the 777X, of which Etihad has at least 25 on order, 8 777-8X and 17 777-9X, an order attributed to an undisclosed customer is also believed to come from Etihad. Neither did Boeing or Etihad comment on the report.

Pictures by Melanie Whiteside.