Air Arabia Reports 2021 Profit As Travel Demand Recovers & Restrictions Ease

Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – The Middle Eastern budget airline Air Arabia reports a profit for 2021 as governments around the world have begun to ease the travel restrictions and passenger demand started to recover. 

The net profit reached Dh720 million ($196 million) for the entire year of 2021, up from a loss of Dh192 million ($52 million) in 2020, which was heavily affected by the pandemic-related curbs on air travel.

Air Arabia said in a statement on Monday:

“Air Arabia’s full-year record profitability is a testament to the strength of the business model we operate, the group’s management team, as well as the diversification and growth strategy adopted,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammad Al Thani, chairman of Air Arabia, said.

“The year 2021 continued to be challenging for the aviation industry worldwide because of the lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions it imposed on air travel. Despite that … Air Arabia managed to deliver such a performance, signaling a steady recovery for the industry.”

Pressure on the airlines’ profitability has been easing since the last quarter of 2021, and that ease is expected to grow thanks to the recovering passenger numbers and the strong cargo demand, a recent survey by the IATA found.

UAE-listed Air Arabia has been pushing ahead with expansion after the Covid-19 pandemic as low-cost airlines bet on a recovery in short-haul travel demand amid rapid vaccine campaigns around the world.

Air Arabia signed three joint-venture deals to establish new airlines in Abu Dhabi, Armenia, and Pakistan.

The airline carried more than 6.7 million passengers in 2021 from its five hubs in the UAE, Morocco, and Egypt, an increase of 54 percent in 2020.

The average seat load factor — the number of passengers carried as a percentage of available seats — reached 73 percent.

Air Arabia’s fourth-quarter net profit rose to Dh467m, from Dh20m in the same period in 2020, marking its fifth consecutive profitable quarter since the pandemic started, it said.

Revenue for the final quarter of 2021 more than doubled year-on-year to Dh1.3bn.

Higher passenger demand and stronger yield margins, combined with the cost control measures adopted by the airline since the start of the pandemic, contributed to the fourth-quarter performance, the chairman said.

Air Arabia carried more than 2.5 million passengers from its five hubs in the last three months of 2021, double the number of passengers carried in the same period a year earlier.

The average seat load factor increased by six percent, reflecting the increase in demand for air travel during the last quarter, to stand at 81 percent.

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