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Abu Dhabi's flag carrier airline Etihad is to beat its target of 10 million passengers in 2012. Andrew Parsons / The National
Abu Dhabi's flag carrier airline Etihad is to beat its target of 10 million passengers in 2012. Andrew Parsons / The National

Record-breaking year for Etihad

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways has broken its 10 million passenger target for 2012, notching up a 22 per cent increase on the number of people it carried last year.

Etihad Airways has broken its 10 million passenger target for 2012, notching a 22 per cent increase on the number of people it carried last year.

By midnight on December 31, the nine-year-old airline will have carried more than 10.29 million passengers, an increase of 1.88 million on 2011.

The performance means Etihad will have carried 73 per cent of all passengers through Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2012, a 5.3 per cent increase on 2011's figure of 67.7 per cent.

If passenger numbers on flights into Abu Dhabi by Etihad's equity partners - Air Berlin, Virgin Australia and Air Seychelles - are added, then the combined total for 2012 rises to 76 per cent of all passengers.

And if passengers on Etihad's code-share partners are also added, the total percentage of all Etihad-generated passenger traffic through Abu Dhabi airport increases to 81 per cent.

"Etihad Airways has achieved significant expansion in 2012 and therefore it's very satisfying to pass our target of flying more than 10 million passengers during a year for the first time," said James Hogan, the airline's president and chief executive.

"An example of the success of this cooperation is the 300,000 passengers Air Berlin and Etihad Airways have delivered onto each other's networks during the past 12 months. We have launched flights to six new destinations during the last year - Tripoli, Shanghai, Nairobi, Basra, Lagos and Ahmedabad - which have all contributed to the 22 per cent increase in passenger numbers."

The carrier's global network now covers 87 of its own passenger and cargo destinations and 245 code-share destinations.

According to figures released by the airline yesterday, Etihad and its equity partners will have carried more than 74 million passengers this year.

The passenger numbers for equity partners by the end of 2012 will be 33.4 million on Air Berlin, 19.5 million passengers on Virgin Australia, almost 11 million on Aer Lingus, and 241,000 on Air Seychelles.

The Etihad code-share partners that operate into Abu Dhabi International Airport are Air Astana, Alitalia, Czech Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, China's Hainan Airlines, India's Jet Airways, KLM, MEA, Eritrea's nasair, RAKAirways, Afghanistan's Safi Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Ukraine International.

In 2012, Etihad Cargo contributed 87 per cent of tonnage into, out of, and through the Abu Dhabi hub. The total handled hub tonnage by the end of the year will be more than 640,000 tonnes. Overall this year Etihad Cargo carried a record 365,000 tonnes, up 18 per cent on 2011.

Etihad's busiest route was Bangkok with the airline carrying nearly 691,000 passengers to the Thai capital during the year, a 38 per cent increase on 2011.

On Juy 14, Etihad set a record for the number of passengers carried in a single day with 33,766. The old record was 28,942 passengers, on September 3, 2011, but this year the airline broke through the 33,000 level on several days.

Etihad's 2012 figures encapsulate a year of positive results. In October, Etihad's third-quarter returns showed it posted revenues of US$1.3 billion (Dh4.77bn), up 19 per cent year-on-year, with total passenger revenue at $937 million, up 12 per cent.

Cargo revenue was up 6 per cent at $181m and volume up 18 per cent at 93,560 tonnes. Passenger numbers for the quarter were up 23 per cent year on year at 2.8 million, while load factors - the average percentage seats filled on any one flight - stood at 81.2 per cent.

The airline willbegin three new scheduled routes in 2013, to Washington in March, Sao Paulo in June and Ho Chi Minh City in October.

In comparison, the world's leading airline in terms of passengers carried was the American airline, Delta, which carried 161.3 million people in 2011.

The latest passenger figures for UAE's other international carrier, Emirates Airline, show that its numbers during the first half of 2012 rose to 18.7 million passengers, up 15.5 per cent over the same period last year.

 

dblack@thenational.ae

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