Ethiopian Airlines reports profitable FY2019 amidst difficulties

Vytautas Kielaitis

Ethiopian Airlines, which has been under the spotlight of the aviation industry for the past six months due to its relation with the 737 MAX crisis, announced its financial results for the 2018-2019 fiscal year that ended in June 2019. Despite very difficult operating conditions, especially after one of its Boeing 737 MAX jets crashed on March 10, 2019, the Ethiopian flag carrier’s financial results are positive. However, the impact of one of the biggest crises in aviation is still felt, as compared to 2017-2018, Ethiopian Airlines’ net earnings have shrunk.

In FY2019, Ethiopian Airlines reported an operating profit of $260 million, with $4 billion operating revenues. The total number of passengers that have stepped on board Ethiopian’s aircraft in FY2019 is 12.1 million. In addition, the airline carried 432,000 tons of cargo. All in all, the carrier’s net profit for the year is $189 million, which is $18 million less than the net profit earned in FY2018, even if revenues, passenger and cargo tonnages are up.

The 737 MAX crisis had an obvious impact on the airline. Ethiopian Airlines’ 737 MAX accident was the second fatal crash, which prompted aviation authorities worldwide to ground the aircraft type. In total, the carrier currently has four stored 737-8 MAX aircraft, with 25 more on order. Two 737s are already built and are awaiting delivery, according to data.

Furthermore, the carrier, like many other airlines in the world, has experienced severe issues with its Boeing 787 Dreamliner, according to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Tewolde GebreMariam. The problems are related to the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, which, coupled with the MAX groundings, have resulted in a “severe shortage of aircraft”, GebreMariam noted. Out of the 23 total Dreamliners the airline operates, ten of them are powered by the Trent 1000 power plant.

In total, the airline possesses 120 aircraft, with an average age of 6.4 years. As of August 2019, Ethiopian Airlines has 53 aircraft on order. 


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