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Etihad's CEO says it's still business as usual at the airline

  • Etihad Airways posted a $1.87 billion annual loss in 2016.
  • Etihad Airways CEO Peter Baumgartner told CNBC the core airline continued to operate in a "solid way" even amid challenging times.
  • The airline is suspending routes to Perth, Australia, and Edinburgh, Scotland.

Etihad Airways may have faced turbulence in the last financial year, posting a $1.87 billion annual loss in 2016, but its chief executive said it was still business as usual at the Abu Dhabi airline.

"The core airline has always been operating in a very, very solid way even in the most challenging times," Peter Baumgartner, chief executive officer of Etihad Airways told CNBC's Hadley Gamble on Monday.

The collapse in oil prices in 2016 hit Middle Eastern airlines, including Etihad, which had been on an upward trajectory.

According to Baumgartner, the period saw local and regional markets contract, accelerating overcapacity in the region and bringing yields lower. But even though the airline faced a "perfect storm," it continued to operated with "very solid" load factors, he added.

The airline will be cutting some of its routes in the year ahead as it continues with a review to turn its business around. Etihad will suspend flights to Edinburgh, Scotland and Perth, Australia, as part of that review, but Baumgartner said that did not affect the airline's global ambition.

"This is a constant evaluation that is not a one-time cut and then you are done for the next 10 years. This is a very agile business in a very agile environment, so it's kind of business as usual," he said.