Air Arabia swings to profit as travel demand improves

The airline carried 1.9 million passengers in the third quarter, more than doubling from the same period last year

Middle East budget airline Air Arabia swung to a profit in the third quarter as passenger traffic more than doubled across its five bases amid a gradual recovery in air travel from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Net profit for the three-month period to the end of September stood at Dh209 million ($57m), compared with a loss of Dh44.1m in the same period a year ago that was affected by pandemic-triggered travel restrictions, Air Arabia said on Wednesday. Revenue for the quarter more than doubled to Dh804m, compared with Dh294m in the corresponding period last year.

"This performance is supported by the gradual resumption of operations this year, especially in the third quarter, as well as the cost control measures adopted by the management team since the start of the pandemic," said Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed Al Thani, chairman of Air Arabia.

The Sharjah airline has been pushing ahead with expansion in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic last year 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 1.9 million passengers in the third quarter, more than doubling from 665,456 passengers in the same period in 2020, as travel restrictions eased, it said. Air Arabia operates five bases in Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Egypt and Morocco.

The average seat load factor – or passengers carried as a percentage of available seats – for the third quarter stood at an average of 70 per cent.

Air Arabia, which recorded its fourth consecutive quarterly profit since the pandemic started, is bullish about its outlook for the industry's rebound.

"We are confident that the gradual ease on travel restrictions and resumption of operations will continue to help the industry in its path towards recovery," the chairman said. "Aviation is at the center of global mobility and continues to play a key role in the wider economic recovery."

Air Arabia is "hopeful that the steady recovery witnessed in the third quarter continues", he said.

Updated: November 10th 2021, 3:20 PM