July 29, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

Etihad Airways, which operates daily services out of both Melbourne and Sydney, has reported its first profit since the start of the pandemic, making US$296 million in the first half of 2022, a more than half-a-billion-dollar improvement on a year ago.

In the first six months of 2022, Etihad carried just over 4 million passengers within its network, an increase of over 3 million compared to the first half of 2021.

The airline’s network capacity has also increased by 46 per cent on half one in 2021.

“Thanks to our transformation programme, Etihad is emerging from the pandemic stronger than ever, with a world-class fleet, an unmatched customer proposition and sustainability woven into every fibre of our business,” said Etihad’s group CEO Tony Douglas.

“Sustainability continued to be a priority area for Etihad as we entered our fuel-efficient A350-1000s into service and continued our industry-leading decarbonisation efforts, leading to Etihad being recently named Environmental Airline of the Year.”

The airline also launched a sustainability program for corporate travel in January this year.

Passenger revenue tripled in the first six months of 2022, to US$1.25 billion as the world started travelling again and countries relaxed pandemic-era restrictions on border crossings.

As part of its “transformation” the airline has also been looking at streamlining its overhead and finance costs.

“Our transformation programme has made Etihad substantially more resilient and efficient, and we are extremely proud of our return to profitability in the first half of 2022,” said Etihad’s CFO Adam Boukadida.

“In the first half, we managed to further reduce our fixed overhead and finance costs by US$50 million compared to H1 2021, reduce the level of debt on our balance sheet, and improve our EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation] by more than US$600 million.

“While ramping up our operations and recording a four-fold increase in passenger volumes, we kept a tight hold on our cost base. As a result, our operating costs only rose by 26 per cent despite a 46 per cent increase in deployed capacity.

“Our overall operating profit of US$296 million is testament to the strength of our business model at Etihad and the improvements we have made to our underlying financial performance over the years.”

In 2019, nearly 900,00 flew to or from Australia on Etihad flights, with routes to Melbourne and Sydney amongst Etihad’s best performing global routes.