Etihad Airways will survive coronavirus crisis, says CEO

Etihad Airways will survive coronavirus crisis, says CEO

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways will survive the coronavirus epidemic, it’s chief executive said in a video released on Friday, a day after the industry’s largest body warned that Middle East airlines were in crisis.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Thursday said Middle East airlines are facing a liquidity crisis and hundreds of thousands of jobs across the region were at risk and urged for state intervention.

"We want to reassure ... (that) afterwards when we all want to get back to our normal lives, we want to travel, Etihad will still be there to make sure it’s the best possible way that you can enjoy that experience," Tony Douglas said in the video posted on the airline’s Twitter account.

Etihad has cancelled dozens of flights and asked some staff to bring forward paid leave as it tackles the crisis that has shattered global travel demand.

"These are unprecedented times," Douglas said in the video, in which he also described the situation as difficult.

The state-owned carrier this month reported an $870 million loss for 2019, its fourth consecutive annual loss.

The airline once sought to compete head to head with major Gulf hub carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways, piling billions of dollars into a failed strategy of buying minority stakes in other airlines.

Etihad, which has lost $5.6 billion since 2016, is now focused on point-to-point traffic.