Etihad’s chief commercial officer has told an aviation conference being held at the airline’s training college in Abu Dhabi today that the carrier does not now expect to start turning a profit until 2023. Speaking at the Gulf Innovation Forum, Robin Kamark said the airline is now hoping to return to the black at the end of a five year turnaround programme.
It’s been a difficult few years for the UAE’s national airline having racked up billions of dollars of losses since 2016. In that year, the carrier reported a spectacular loss of $1.95 billion USD.
In the years since, Etihad has reduced losses to $1.52 billion in 2017 and in its most recent financial results for 2018, those losses had been brought down to $1.28 billion.
Most of Etihad’s problems can be traced back to a disastrous equity investment scheme in which the airline took minority stakes in a number of failing airlines. Etihad had hoped to build its own airline alliance but has since cut its losses.
Failed airlines in which Etihad ploughed hundreds of millions of dollars into include the now defunct Air Berlin and India’s Jet Airways.
Etihad also cut ties with Alitalia but it continues to be supported by the Italian government and is funded by the country’s tax payers.
The current turnaround programme has seen Etihad slash unprofitable routes, cut costs across the airline and defer or delay a number of unneeded aircraft orders. Earlier this year, a number of “surplus” pilots were also made redundant.