Etihad Airways has reported a loss of just under US$1.3 billion for its core airline operations in 2018.

The figure of $1.28 billion is an improvement of 15 per cent on 2017 when the carrier lost $1.52 billion.

The airline carried a total of 17.8 million passengers in 2018, down from 18.6 million in 2017, and load factors also decreased from 78.5 per cent to 76.4 per cent.

But yields increased by 4 per cent, driven by “capacity discipline, network and fleet optimisation, and growing market share in premium and point-to-point markets”.

Etihad is in the midst of a five-year transformation programme, which has seen route rationalisation, the removal of premium chauffeur drive services at international destinations, the introduction of buy-on-board choices, the launch of a new Economy Space seating option, and the outsourcing of selected lounges to No1 Lounges.

The carrier said that a number of unprofitable routes were discontinued in 2018, including Tehran, Jaipur, Entebbe, Dallas Fort Worth, Ho Chi Minh City, Dhaka, Dar es Salaam, Edinburgh and Perth.

Commenting on the results Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, said:

“In 2018, we continued to forge ahead with our transformation journey by streamlining our cost base, improving our cash-flow and strengthening our balance sheet.

“Our transformation is instilling a renewed sense of confidence in our customers, our partners and our people. As a major enabler of commerce and tourism to and from Abu Dhabi, we are intrinsically linked to the continued success of the emirate.”