Etihad Airways has published its financial results for 2020, showing an operating loss of $1.7 billion, compared to a loss of $0.8 billion the previous year.

The carrier said that passenger numbers fell by 76 per cent last year to just 4.2 million, with capacity down 64 per cent and load factors declining to 52.9 per cent.

Revenues were down 74 per cent, with the carrier stating that “A contributing factor to this was the total suspension of passenger services into and out of the UAE from end of March until early June 2020 to limit the spread of Covid, in line with a UAE government mandate”.

Indeed over 80 per cent of all passengers carried during 2020 were flown in the first three months of the year, before the onset of global travel restrictions.

Similar to Lufthansa Group – which today reported a net loss of €6.7 billion in 2020 – Etihad said that its cargo operations recorded “an extremely strong performance”, with a 66 per cent increase in revenues “driven by huge demand for medical supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and pharmaceuticals, paired with limited global airfreight capacity”.

“Covid shook the very foundation of the aviation industry, but thanks to our dedicated people and the support of our shareholder, Etihad stood firm and is ready to play a key role as the world returns to flying,” said Tony Douglas, Group CEO

“While nobody could have predicted how 2020 would unfold, our focus on optimising core business fundamentals over the past three years put Etihad in good stead to respond decisively to the global crisis.

“We have taken bold action to protect our people and our guests, develop an industry-leading health and hygiene programme, and restructure our business to better position us for recovery. As the world’s first airline to vaccinate all our operating pilots and cabin crew against Covid, we are ready to welcome back travellers to experience best-in-class travel with Etihad Airways.”

The airline highlighted the launch of its Etihad Wellness programme as an example of its response to the pandemic, and said that than 75 per cent of its total UAE-based workforce has now received the vaccine, with Etihad becoming the first airline in the world to have 100 per cent of its operating flight crew vaccinated.

Etihad becomes first airline with entirely vaccinated crew