May 5, 2019 / 4:56 PM / 15 days ago

Air Arabia first-quarter profit up 16 percent as passenger numbers improve

DUBAI (Reuters) - Air Arabia on Sunday posted a 16 percent jump in first-quarter profit, citing a rise in passenger numbers.

The Middle East budget airline reported a full-year loss for 2018 after booking impairments mainly attributable to its exposure to collapsed private equity firm Abraaj.

Air Arabia made a net profit of 128 million dirhams ($34.9 million) in the three months to March 31 on revenue up 17 percent to 1 billion dirhams, it said in a statement.

The airline carried 2.8 million passengers, which it said was up 8 percent year on year, and filled an average of 84 percent of seats, 3 percent more than a year ago.

Chairman Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed al-Thani warned that oil prices, geopolitical and economic developments are affecting trading conditions but said the airline was confident in the “long-term fundamentals” of the region’s aviation sector.

Chief Executive Adel Ali had said on April 30 that the entire exposure to Abraaj was booked in impairments in the 2018 results so the airline could concentrate on its business.

“The legal side is taking care of it,” he said.

The airline said in January that it had launched legal proceedings against Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi.

($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham)

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by David Goodman

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