Budget carrier flydubai reported Sunday heavy losses for 2020, calling it ”one of the toughest years in aviation history” due to the pandemic and the grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX fleet.
The government-owned carrier, a sister of aviation giant Emirates, said it sank into the red to the tune of $194 million, compared to a $53.9 million profit the previous year, while revenues plummeted by more than half to $773 million.
”We managed the combined effects of the pandemic and continued grounding of the MAX aircraft on our operations, but undoubtedly they have had a severe impact on our results,” CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said in a statement.
”The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us more than any other crisis.”
Boeing remains under heavy scrutiny after two fatal crashes that led to a 20-month grounding of the MAX jets.
The global shutdown imposed in March ravaged international air travel and flydubai’s operations were sharply curtailed for 14 weeks until July.
Passenger numbers sank to 3.2 million over the year, compared to 9.6 million in 2019.
However, Dubai became one of the first destinations to reopen to tourism last year, making it a magnet for visitors from all over the world.
”This increased demand contributed to flydubai’s recovery in the second half of 2020. It is expected to continue in 2021,” the airline said.
The carrier’s employees shrank from 3,922 to 3,796 over the year, and 1,092 others were on unpaid or voluntary leave.
”The challenges we faced in 2020 meant that there were difficult decisions to be made,” Al Ghaith said.
”Our employees had to take periods of unpaid leave or work at reduced salary levels. I fully recognise that this created some hardship, but it has meant that we have been able to maintain employment levels.”