March 4, 2020 / 10:32 AM / a month ago

UAE's flydubai reports full-year profit as Boeing compensation helps

DUBAI (Reuters) - United Arab Emirates carrier flydubai swung to a profit of 198.2 million dirham ($54 million) last year, helped by a compensation agreement with Boeing over the worldwide 737 MAX grounding.

FILE PHOTO: A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft bearing the logo of flydubai is parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 11, 2019. REUTERS/David Ryder/File Photo

The Dubai state-owned airline is one of the world’s biggest MAX customers, though only operated around 14 of the jets when they were grounded in March 2019.

However, its fleet size shrank by more than a quarter to 45 jets last year as it retired older aircraft and new MAX jets were also grounded.

“We have had to manage a number of unprecedented issues faced by the aviation industry,” Chief Executive Ghaith al-Ghaith said in a statement on Wednesday.

The airline has reached a confidential interim settlement deal with Boeing (BA.N) over the grounding, and is in further talks over the impact of the grounding, he said.

“This agreement has contributed towards this year’s results, but in no way can it compensate for the loss of business opportunity or market share experienced by the airline.”

Revenue dipped 2.6% to 6 billion dirhams, while direct operating costs fell 17.8%, it said.

It carried 9.6 million passengers, which was fewer than the 11 million in the previous year.

“The preparation for this year’s outlook statement is challenging given the uncertainty around the timetable for the return to service of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and the subsequent aircraft delivery schedule,” Ghaith said.

Flydubai leased some previous model 737 jets in the interim.

(This story corrects revenue figure to 6 billion dirhams from 6.2 billion dirhams in paragraph 7)

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; editing by David Evans

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