Reuters reports that United Arab Emirates carrier flydubai registered revenue losses of $194 million last year, hit by a plunge in passenger traffic as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The losses are compared to profits of $54 mn in 2019.
Revenue contracted 53.7% to $763 mn, from $1.6 billion across calendar 2019.
Flydubai said the pandemic had impacted the airline more than any other crisis, with passenger traffic falling 67% to 3.2 million in 2020 from 9.6 million the year before, while the number of flights it operated fell 63% to 27,450.
The airline lost $148.5 mn in the first six months of 2020.
Also impacting the numbers at flydubai was the long-running grounding of the 737 MAX. The airline has 14 in its fleet. UAE governments did not clear the MAX to fly in local airspace until February 2021.
Flydubai said 1,092 employees had taken unpaid leave or were on voluntary leave or about 29% of its current workforce of 3,796 staff.
The airline said 126 employees had left the company.
The low-cost carrier calls the past twelve months the toughest in its history.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us more than any other crisis,” says Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO at flydubai.
Flydubai’s fleet shrank by eight jets to 51 Boeing 737s, it said.
Before the travel downturn, the airline was serving 93 cities across 47 countries with a fleet of mostly Boeing 737-800 planes.
The airline has gradually ramped up operations and reactivated planes. Now, flydubai is flying to 65 destinations in 37 countries.
Abu Dhabi’s low-cost Wizz Air expanding
Despite the numerous challenges that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has posed to the airline industry, low-cost carrier Wizz Air has remained in expansion mode over the last 12 months.
It opened a base in Abu Dhabi last year and according to its CEO, it is planning to fly the upcoming Airbus A321XLR from there within two years, giving the airline access to a significant proportion of the global population.
The Airbus A321XLR is a highly-anticipated aircraft that represents a significant step towards narrow bodies becoming more commonplace on long-haul corridors.
Wizz Air is also a customer of the A320 and A320neo families.