UAE budget carrier Air Arabia reported a six per cent rise in fourth quarter net profit, helped by a rise in passenger numbers but still short of forecasts. Air Arabia earned a net profit of Dh83 million ($22.6 million), up from Dh77.5 million ($21 million) in the same period last year, the airline announced. The earnings fell short of estimates of analysts polled by Reuters who expected an average profit of Dh91.7 million ($24.9 million).
In 2012, Air Arabia carried more than 5.3 million passengers compared to 4.7 million in 2011, a 13 per cent growth.
The significant growth in passenger numbers is a testimony to the airline’s ambitious network expansion strategy. In 2012, the airline has launched flights from its primary hub in Sharjah to nine new destinations – Kazan, Taif, Salalah, Ufa, Odessa, Erbil, Astana, Basra and Rostov. The airline also increased frequencies to many exiting routes such as Moscow, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Doha, Kuwait and Najaf as well as Karachi, Peshawar and Delhi. In addition, the airline has continued its expansion from its hubs in Morocco and Egypt reaching a global network of 82 cities.
Air Arabia took delivery of six new aircraft in 2012 as part of an order for 44 aircraft placed in 2007. The delivery of the 44 new aircraft will be completed by 2016, and will more than double the size of Air Arabia’s fleet.
The airline also took delivery of its first Sharklet equipped aircraft from Airbus, and became the first airline in the Middle East to operate a Sharklet equipped A320 aircraft. The airline is due to receive five more aircraft this year.