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Two Gulf airlines: Qatar upgrades Oz; Etihad posts result

March 20, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Qatar Airways will deploy its state-of-the-art stretched Airbus A350-1000 on the Doha-Sydney route from 28 October 2019, while Adelaide will receive a Qatar Airways A350-900 from 16 August 2019.

Australian Business Traveller counts both as wins for business flyers, pointing out that both aircraft will feature Qatar’s highly-regarded Qsuites business class. Highlights of the Qsuite are the doors and dividers which offer privacy, a fully lie-flat bed, in-suite accent lighting, generous storage spaces and ‘dine on demand’ meal service.

The A350 is more spacious, modern and quieter than the B777-300ER which currently connects Doha, Sydney and Canberra.

MEANWHILE, Abu Dhabi-based rival Etihad Airways posted a loss of USD 1.28 billion (AUD 1.8 billion) in 2018, extending the deficit over three years to USD 4.8 billion, as it proceeds with a cost-cutting plan.

Etihad cancelled nine unprofitable routes last year. It axed services to Perth, along with Tehran, Jaipur, Entebbe, Dallas/Fort Worth, Ho Chi Minh City, Dhaka, Dar es Salaam and Edinburgh.

The airline added Baku and Barcelona to its global network in 2018. It says both routes are outperforming forecasts.

Chief executive Tony Douglas said progress was being made in “streamlining our cost base, improving our cash-flow and strengthening our balance sheet”. The enormous annual loss was an improvement on 2017’s USD 1.52 billion.

Etihad Airways notes that its core operating performance had improved 5% in 2018, 7% higher than forecast, on revenues of USD 5.86 billion.

Coming to Sydney this year, Qatar Airways 366 seat A350-1000

Etihad proclaimed:

  • 15% improvement in core operating performance, on revenues of USD 5.86 billion
  • 4% increase in passenger yields, driven by capacity discipline, network and fleet optimisation, and growing market share in premium and point-to-point markets
  • 3% reduction in unit costs, despite 31% higher fuel prices
  • 8 million passengers and 682,100 leg tonnes of cargo carried

Since commencing its five-year transformation program in 2017, Etihad has improved its core operating performance by 34% despite what it termed “challenging market conditions and effects of an increase in fuel prices”.

Etihad carried 17.8 million passengers in 2018 (2017: 18.6m), with a 76.4% seat factor (2017: 78.5%) and a decrease in passenger capacity (Available Seat Kilometres (ASK)) of 4% (from 115.0 billion to 110.3 billion).

The airline increased yields by 4%, largely driven by capacity discipline, network and fleet optimisation and growing market share in premium and point-to-point markets. Passenger revenues remained steady at USD 5 billion.

Following negotiations with Airbus and Boeing, revisions to Etihad’s forward fleet commitments were announced on 14 February 2019. Under these agreements, the airline will take delivery of five Airbus A350-1000, 26 Airbus A321neo and six Boeing 777-9 aircraft in coming years.

Written by Peter Needham

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