Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways has announced a record core operating profit of US$296 million for H1 2022, compared to a US$ 392 million loss it accumulated in the corresponding period last year.

The airline carried 4.02 million passengers in H1 2022 with an average seat load factor of 75 per cent, over 3 million more than in H1 2021 when it transported 980,000 passengers.

Passenger loads increased over the first six months of this year, rising by 21.9 percentage points pointing towards aa sustained recovery in travel demand. The airline said that it saw a strong boost in passenger volumes in February as Abu Dhabi further eased its pandemic-related restrictions.

Etihad’s passenger revenues tripled in the first six months of 2022, climbing to US$1.25 billion versus US$320 million in H1 2021.

Network capacity at Etihad came in at 24 billion ASKs for H1 2022, an increase of 46 per cent compared to the same period last year where that figure stood at 16.4 billion. It connected Abu Dhabi to 71 passenger and cargo destinations across 45 countries.

The first half of this year also saw Etihad launch five summer services, including new seasonal routes to Heraklion on the island of Crete and the French city of Nice.

The record operating profit was achieved despite fuel costs increasing by almost 60 per cent year-on-year.

Its cargo operations reported revenues of US$802 million in the first half of 2022, representing an increase of 6 per cent year-on-year. The airline said that it managed to maintain the rise in cargo revenues despite the increase in passenger volumes limiting belly-hold capacity, leading to a 19 per cent reduction in freight carried (295,020 tonnes).

“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 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,” noted Etihad’s chief financial officer Adam Boukadida.

Fixed overhead and finance costs decreased in H1 2022, falling 9 per cent (or US$29 million) and 13 per cent (or US$22 million) respectively.

The airline’s loyalty programme Etihad Guest meanwhile delivered a record of new member acquisitions in June 2022, increasing to 7.95 million members globally. Flight redemptions increased 15 per cent in H1 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with over 737,000 flights taken.

“Etihad Guest delivered record results this year as we continued to drive member engagement and launched Conscious Choices, the first green loyalty programme in the world to reward frequent flyers for making sustainable choices in the air and on the ground. 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,” said Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer.