Etihad Airways is targeting increased profits this year after recording its second consecutive 12 months in the black during 2012.
The Gulf carrier followed its first ever positive return in 2011 by lifting profits at an operating level by more than a quarter to $170 million and trebling net profits to $41 million.
"Ours is a strategy that is different, but it is working and we are profitable," chief executive James Hogan said during an Etihad results press conference today. The airline posted a 17% increase in revenue during the 12 months to 31 December. Nearly 20% of its overall revenue was contributed by its codeshare and alliance partners.
"The strategy with alliances is how we are stretching our network," Hogan says. "The equity strategy has enabled us to have scale, moving to 70 aircraft has given us scale." The airline will take delivery of an additional 14 aircraft this year, it says.
"For 2013 we have set a profit target," Hogan says. While he would not be drawn on the exact figure, Hogan says it is aiming for an improved performance on 2012's result.
But he adds: "We have to ensure we are robust enough to protect us from challenges in the market." This includes the potential impact of political events in Syria and elsewhere in the region, which could increase the price of jet fuel. "That's why we have a very aggressive fuel hedging strategy in place," says Hogan.
While the carrier also faces an impact from continued economic problems in the Eurozone, Hogan says this is offset by strong growth elsewhere in its network, including Australasia, Asia and the Americas. Etihad will this year launch flights to Ho Chi Minh City, Washington DC and São Paulo - its first Latin American destination.
He also believes the carrier will benefit from further developments at its Abu Dhabi base as a destination in itself. "As more content becomes available to Abu Dhabi, more visitors will come here," he says.