Sharjah's Air Arabia 2017 profits soar

Carrier confident about the long-term fundamentals of the aviation sector in the region which is driven by the underlying demand for air travel

Air Arabia posted a solid rise in profit for last year. Sarah Dea/The National
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Air Arabia, based in Sharjah, announced surging full-year financial results for 2017 as the Mena region's first and largest low-cost carrier posted a 30 per cent rise in earnings along with growth across its operations.

“Air Arabia has enjoyed consistent and sustained growth in 2017 driven by its network expansion strategy and cost control measures helping us to once again deliver a strong set of results," said Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammad Al Thani, Chairman of Air Arabia.

Net profit for the full year ending December 31 was Dh662 million, up from Dh509m for 2016.

Turnover for the full year 2017 was in line with the preceding 12 months reaching Dh3.74 billion. More than 8.5 million passengers flew with Air Arabia in 2017 and the average seat load factor – or passengers carried as a percentage of available seats – in 2017 stood at 79 per cent.

Air Arabia’s board proposed a dividend distribution of 10 per cent of share capital, which is equivalent to 10 fils per share, subject to ratification by the carrier's shareholders at the company’s upcoming Annual General Meeting.

The airline added 21 new routes to its global network in 2017 from its operating hubs in the UAE, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan. The carrier took delivery of four new aircraft and ended the year with a fleet of 50 Airbus A320 aircraft operating to 140 routes across the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

"While political and economic challenges continued to impact the performance of the aviation sector in 2017, we have focused more keenly than ever on ensuring the highest level of operational efficiency and appealing product offering," said the chairman.

“Air Arabia’s ability to continue to report sustained profitability and achieve solid growth margins across our network reflects the strength of our business model and the carrier’s management team.”


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In the fourth quarter of 2017, Air Arabia reported a net profit of Dh26m, an increase of 177 per cent compared to a net loss of Dh33m registered in the last quarter of 2016. Turnover for the three months ending December 31, 2017 was Dh858m an increase of 5.4 per cent compared to Dh814m in the same period in 2016. Air Arabia flew more than 2 million passengers in the final quarter of 2017 at a seat factor of 78 per cent.

AirArabia said the solid operating metrics and high seat load factor in the fourth quarter were positively impacted by improvement in yield margins and capacity rationalisation that the market have seen in the last quarter.

It added that it was confident about the long-term fundamentals of the aviation sector in the region which is driven by the underlying demand for air travel, major investments undertaken in aviation infrastructure in the region as well as the region’s hub position on the global map.

The carrier will continue to explore opportunities and enter into new ventures "that will best serve the airline’s ambitious growth plans and at the same time provide highest returns to our shareholders”, said the chairman.