Budget carrier Air Arabia, the UAE's only publicly listed airline, posted record third-quarter profit amid strong air travel demand across its six hubs, but warned of the geopolitical and economic uncertainty facing the aviation industry.
Net profit for the three-month period ended September 30 nearly doubled to Dh416 million ($113.27m), from Dh209m in the same quarter last year, the airline said in a statement on Wednesday.
Revenue for the period also doubled year-on-year to Dh1.6 billion as the number of passengers carried more than doubled.
The record performance was “supported by the strong passenger demand and rigid cost control measures adopted by the management team,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed Al Thani, chairman of Air Arabia, said.
Demand for air travel is recovering as border restrictions ease and people take advantage of the freedom to travel after two years of Covid-19 lockdowns.
However, higher oil prices, rising inflation and a shortage of labour have challenged the global aviation industry's recovery as airlines race to ramp up operations to keep pace with demand.
Air Arabia carried more than 3.9 million passengers between July and September across its hubs in the UAE, Morocco, Egypt and Armenia, marking an increase of 103 per cent on the same quarter in 2021.
The airline's average seat load factor — a measure of how well an airline fills available seats — stood at an average 80 per cent during the three-month period, it said.
The Sharjah-based airline's nine-month profit surged to Dh867m, up 242 per cent year-on-year.
Revenue more than doubled to Dh3.8bn from the same period in 2021, as the airline carried more than nine million passengers, an increase of 118 per cent year-on-year.
During this period, Air Arabia added 10 new aircraft to its fleet and expanded its route network by launching flights to 14 new cities across its hubs.
In June, it launched joint venture airline Fly Arna that currently operates two Airbus A320 aircraft serving five destinations from Yerevan.
In September, Air Arabia formed a joint venture to start Air Arabia Sudan, in partnership with Sudanese conglomerate DAL Group.
In October, Fly Jinnah, Air Arabia's joint venture company in Pakistan, received its Air Operator Certificate and Air Operating Licence. In November, it started domestic operations across five destinations in Pakistan.
“While we continue to witness a strong recovery in air travel, the aviation industry continues also to face many geopolitical challenges and economic uncertainty,” Sheikh Abdullah said.
“Despite these challenges, we have full confidence in the business model we operate, as we remain focused on driving operational efficiency across board.”