Air Arabia, the first and largest low cost carrier (LCC) in the Middle East and North Africa, reported a net profit of AED20 million ($5.4 million) for the fourth quarter ending December 31, 2020 - 90 per cent less than in the fourth quarter of 2019.
During October to December 2020, the airline posted a turnover of AED536 million ($145.9 million), 53 per cent less than the corresponding period in 2019, while serving more than 1.2 million passengers across the carrier’s five hubs. The early measures taken by the airline to control overall cost while ensuring business continuity enabled Air Arabia to register a profitable fourth quarter despite all-round industry performance impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which impacted global air travel in mid-February and continues to challenge the aviation industry.
For the full year ending December 31, 2020, Air Arabia limited net loss to AED192 million ($52.2 million), despite the pandemic’s adverse effect on aviation and travel operations during the year. The company’s turnover for the full year 2020 was AED1.85 billion ($503.5 million), and a total of 4.4 million passengers were served from all five hubs.
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed Al Thani, Chairman of Air Arabia, said: “Air Arabia’s ability to record a profitable fourth quarter despite the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, is a testament to the robust business model it operates. The early measures taken by the management team to control overall cost and the gradual resumption of flights, albeit to a limited number of destinations, helped in achieving profits in the fourth quarter and in significantly reducing the net loss for the full year.”
He added: “Despite the strong start of the year in early 2020, the impact of the pandemic on the global aviation industry, which quickly materialised in airport closures and travel restrictions, forced airlines worldwide to battle the biggest challenge faced in the history of aviation.”
Al Thani said: “While the year 2021 continues to be a challenging one for the industry, we remain confident about the fundamentals of the aviation sector and the vital role air travel will continue to play in economic recovery. At Air Arabia, we remain focused on adopting further measures to help improve the overall cost structure of the group and will continue to gradually resume operations where possible.”
The year 2020 witnessed the launch of Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, which was formed following an agreement by Etihad Airways and Air Arabia to establish the capital’s first low-cost carrier. The first Air Arabia Abu Dhabi flight took off to Alexandria in July and was followed by the launch of eight additional routes from Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Although the pandemic forced many airports to suspend operations and continue to do so, Air Arabia added a total of 14 new routes to its global network in 2020 from its operating hubs in the UAE, Morocco and Egypt. Direct flights between Sharjah and Tashkent were launched in November while flights from Casablanca to Rennes and Guelmim started in December, in addition to commencing a new route to Malaga from Casablanca and Nador. Air Arabia also added nine new routes from Abu Dhabi International Airport with direct flights to Alexandria, Cairo, Sohag, Dhaka, Kabul, Chattogram, Khartoum, Muscat and Salalah.
The carrier took delivery of two new Airbus A321 neo-LR aircraft and ended the year with a fleet of 57 Airbus A320 and A321. In October, Air Arabia celebrated 17 years of successful operations that transformed the air travel industry in the wider MENA region by carrying 100 million passengers since its inception.
Air Arabia continues to be recognised locally and internationally for its strong performance and community efforts. In October, Air Arabia was ranked number one on Airfinance Journal’s list of top 100 global airlines. In November, Air Arabia’s Group Chief Executive Officer received the 2020 Laureate Award from Aviation Week Network for Air Arabia’s Airline Strategy celebrating his and his team’s extraordinary achievement in introducing low-cost air travel to the Middle East and North Africa while building and pioneering a sustainably profitable business model. In December, Air Arabia won the ‘Low-Cost Airline of the Year’ recognition at the 14th Aviation Business Awards (AVB) gala ceremony held in Dubai.
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