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Etihad Airways reported on Wednesday it carried 18.5 million guests in 2016, a 6 per cent increase over the 17.4 million guests in 2015.
The figure, while higher year-on-year marks a slowdown in the growth rate compared to the 17 per cent increase in 2015 amid a “very tough business environment” in 2016, as described by James Hogan, president and chief executive officer of Etihad Aviation Group. Capacity measured via available seat kilometers was up 9 per cent and revenue passenger kilometers increased 8 per cent. The average load factor stood at 79 per cent and the airline carried a flat 592,700 tons of cargo. There was little mention of economic difficulties, which led the airline to cut jobs and restructure its business last year. Etihad last month announced that it was conducting a “company-wide strategic review” and plans for Group President and Chief Executive James Hogan to step down in the second half of 2017.“2016 saw sustained growth in a very tough business environment,” Hogan said in a statement.
The rapid expansion of Gulf carriers over the past few years has slowed. Etihad said in December it was cutting jobs, mostly through “natural attrition”. It has not said how many jobs would be affected.