Annual net profits at Etihad Airways rose by $30 million last year to a record $103 million supported by strategic investments in seven partner airlines.
The rise from £73 million in 2014 came as revenues increased from $7.55 billion to $9.02 billion.
The airline’s fifth consecutive year of net profitability also saw earnings before interest and tax [EBIT] of $259 million against $257 million.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and rentals [EBITDAR] rose from $1.1 billion to $1.4 billion, representing 16% of total revenues as passenger numbers increased by 18.9% to 17.6 million.
The average network-wide seat load factor was 79.4% compared with 79.2% in 2014.
This came as the UAE carrier’s fleet increased by 11 aircraft to a total of 121, including four Airbus A380-800 superjumbos and four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
Etihad Regional was the latest addition to the airline’s equity partner network, which also includes Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways, Air Serbia, Alitalia and Virgin Australia.
Etihad Airways’ stake in Virgin Australia increased to 25.1% in 2015.
The equity partners combine comprise the seventh largest global grouping of airlines, together flying more than 100 million passengers worldwide, according to Etihad Airways.
The strategy has contributed to a rise in sales across Etihad Airways’ global network, delivering a 22.1% rise in revenues to $1.4 billion and more than five million passengers onto Etihad flights.
The airline and its equity partners have been able to identify and develop significant business synergies and cost savings.
President and CEO, James Hogan, said: “Our mandate is to build a sustainably profitable airline. A fifth year of net profits, with our best annual financial performance to date, shows that we are delivering against that goal.
“Our profitability clearly demonstrates the success of our business strategy, based on organic growth boosted by our partnerships.
“As well as operating profitability, we are building enterprise value across the airline and its many additional business streams.”
The airline’s return on its equity investments into seven airlines was many times more than the money it had spent, he added.
“For an investment smaller than the cost of three new aircraft, we have been able to build our global network, attract five million new customers and $1.4 billion of revenues, and share massive cost synergies. That’s smart business,” Hogan said.
“This is a two-pronged approach. From a strategic level, we are looking for the equity partners to bring network connectivity, generate additional revenues and create economies of scale. All our partners are delivering on this level.
“Each partner then has a P&L goal, which is the responsibility of its own management and Boards of Directors. Many of these, such as Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways and Virgin Australia, are now delivering on this level too.
“Even with an investment such as Air Berlin, where it has taken longer than expected for the airline to reach sustainable profitability, we are seeing incredibly strong returns directly into our business, far in excess of our original expectations.
“We have already received more than $500 million in direct revenues to Etihad Airways and Air Berlin today delivers more than $150 million a year in direct revenues, as well as wide-ranging cost synergies which have already reached more than $100 million.
“In addition, the Air Berlin relationship is delivering a contribution of more than $630 million a year to the Abu Dhabi economy. This is why we remain committed to the restructuring of that business as it moves forward.”
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