Air Arabia profit jumps 34 per cent in the first quarter

Sharjah-based budget carrier Air Arabia reported a 34 per cent jump in net profit, as the airline opened new destinations and carried more passengers.

The UAE’s only listed airline reported a net profit of Dh114 million for the three months ending March 31, compared with Dh85m in the same period a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Revenue for the period was up 7 per cent to Dh946m.

Passenger numbers grew 17 per cent for the quarter to 2.1 million between January and March this year. The average seat load factor, a measure of filled seats compared to available seats, stood at 81 per cent for the first three months of the year.

Air Arabia’s continued expansion into central Europe has allowed the airline to tap into new growth markets and connect new “city pairs” that previously didn’t exist, according to Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at the UK’s StrategicAero Research.

“This has had the double effect of growing passenger numbers while it has also helped mitigate against fluctuations in regional demand, which in some markets has been strained or challenging given the wars and refugee crises in places like Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and other disruptive development in other areas like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia,” said Mr Ahmad.

The airline also said that it was able to offset macroeconomic challenges by operations efficiency and the addition of new routes. During the first quarter of this year, Air Arabia started flights from its Sharjah hub to Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also plans to start seasonal direct flights from Sharjah to Batumi, Georgia, between July and September.

From its Morocco hub, Air Arabia started flights to Fez and in France it started flying to Pau and Toulouse. It also started flying from its hub in Amman airport to Riyadh.

In 2014, Air Arabia opened its second hub in the UAE and fourth worldwide at Ras Al Khaimah International Airport following a long-term strategic partnership with Ras Al Khaimah’s Department of Civil Aviation.

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