UAE airline Etihad announces loss of $1.87B in 2016

Markets Associated Press

The United Arab Emirates' flagship carrier Etihad said on Thursday it lost $1.87 billion in 2016, blaming "one-off impairment charges and fuel hedging losses" for the massive loss.

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The Abu Dhabi-based airline's loss comes during a tough time for the Gulf's long-haul carriers, as a diplomatic crisis with Qatar upended regional air routes and Trump administration's travel ban on six majority Muslim nations also hurt their business.

Etihad's loss also comes as it re-evaluates its business plans following the January departure of CEO James Hogan. He led an aggressive multi-year buying spree that saw the Mideast carrier snap up stakes in airlines from Europe to Australia.

Etihad said the loss included a $1.06 billion charge on aircraft reflecting lower market values and a $808 million charge on certain assets and financial exposures to equity partners, mainly related to Alitalia and Air Berlin. It also blamed a slowdown in the cargo market and legacy fuel hedging costs for the loss.

"A culmination of factors contributed to the disappointing results for 2016," said Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel al-Mazrouei, chairman of the Etihad Aviation Group.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad's new CEO, offered a grim outlook.

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"We are in an industry characterized by overcapacity, declining market sizes on key routes and changing customer behavior as a weak global economy affects spending appetite," Baumgartner said in a statement.

Etihad has more than 110 passenger and cargo destinations around the world and flies a fleet of over 120 Airbus and Boeing aircraft.