Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, which also operates daily flights to Lagos, has recorded its highest ever passenger and cargo volumes in 2013 with 12 million passengers flying with it last year.
Impressive cargo growth was also reported, with 486,753 tons of freight and mail flown by Etihad Airways last year, a staggering increase of 32 percent compared to 2012 volumes.
The passenger traffic recorded marks a significant increase of nearly 16 percent in comparison to 2012’s figure of 10.3 million.
Bangkok was once again the airline’s busiest route, with a total of 742,759 passengers flying to Thailand’s capital city in 2013, a year-on-year increase of seven per cent.
Manila was the second busiest route (547,068 passengers), followed by London (544,564passengers), Jeddah (373,651 passengers) and Paris (338,969 passengers).
Etihad Airways carried 73 per cent of the more than 16.4million passengers who travelled through Abu Dhabi airport in 2013.
With the addition of the airline’s equity alliance partners that operate flights into Abu Dhabi, the combined total rises to 79per cent of passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi airport.
“Our record-breaking numbers in 2013 reflect the continued success of our strategic master plan, which focuses on three fundamental pillars; organic network growth, the forging of code-share partnerships, and minority equity investments in other airlines,” said James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways.
“As the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, we also continued to support Abu Dhabi’s growth as a leading international travel hub, while facilitating trade to and from the country”, he said.
Six destinations were introduced to Etihad Airways’ network in 2013, with new services launched to Washington DC in March, Amsterdam in May, Sao Paulo and Belgrade in June, Sana’a in September, and Ho Chi Minh City in October.
Frequencies were also increased on 18 existing routes last year and new code share agreements were signed with Kenya Airways, Air Serbia, and South African Airways, Belavia, Korean Airlines, Air Canada and air Baltic.
During 2013, building on its organic growth, Etihad Airways also expanded its code share and equity partnerships, which delivered more than 1.8 million passengers onto Etihad Airways flights, 38 per cent higher than the 1.3 million in 2012
In addition to its four existing equity partners – airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus, Etihad Airways announced investments in three additional carriers in 2013.
In August, the airline formalised a five-year contract to manage Serbia’s national carrier, Air Serbia (formerly Jat Airways), with a 49 per cent equity stake.
This was followed in November, when the airline obtained regulatory approval from the Indian government to finalise a 24 per cent investment in Jet Airways, and announced its intention to acquire 33.3 per cent of the Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline, which will become the first airline to operate under the new brand of Etihad Regional.
The airline accounted for 89 per cent of cargo imports, exports and transfers at Abu Dhabi airport last year.
Volumes were boosted by enhancements to the freighter fleet capability and more cargo in the belly hold of passenger aircraft. .
Last year, Etihad Airways took delivery of eight Airbus aircraft (four A320s, one A321, two A330-200s and one A330 freighter), eight Boeing aircraft (six 777-300ERs and two 777 freighters), and added further leased capacity which included the airline’s inaugural 747-8 freighter.
Its fleet now comprises 89 aircraft, with an average age of only 5.2 years.