x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Etihad breaks passenger record with nearly 12m in 2013

Organic growth, equity partnerships and codeshare deals helped Etihad Airways to boost its passenger traffic by 16 per cent last year.

14/06/10 - Abu Dhabi, UAE -   Etihad Airways on Friday June 10, 2010.  TDIC offers Seaplane flights from Abu Dhabi to Sir Bani Yas Island throughout the week.  The flight offers a unique look at Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas Island.   (Andrew Henderson/The National)
14/06/10 - Abu Dhabi, UAE - Etihad Airways on Friday June 10, 2010. TDIC offers Seaplane flights from Abu Dhabi to Sir Bani Yas Island throughout the week. The flight offers a unique look at Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas Island. (Andrew Henderson/The National)

The number of passengers flying with Etihad Airways surged by 16 per cent last year to reach a record high of nearly 12 million.

Cargo growth reached 486,753 tonnes, a rise of 32 per cent in freight and mail flown by the airline compared to the year before, the airline said.

“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 codeshare partnerships, and minority equity investments in other airlines,” said James Hogan, the president and chief executive of Etihad.

“We also continued to support Abu Dhabi’s growth as a leading international travel hub, while facilitating trade to and from the country.”

Last year marked another chapter in the airline’s aim to suck more traffic through its Abu Dhabi base, while expanding its reach in new and existing markets.

Etihad carried 73 per cent of the more than 16.4 million passengers who travelled through Abu Dhabi International Airport last year. With the addition of the airline’s equity alliance partners that operate flights to the airport, the combined total rises to 79 per cent of passenger traffic.

It added six new destinations, with new services launched to Washington 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 added on 18 existing routes.

The year also marked a step-up in its effort to build up its traffic through equity investments and codeshare agreements. The strategy delivered more than 1.8 million passengers onto Etihad flights, 38 per cent more than the 1.3 million the year before.

Etihad announced investments in three new carriers, bringing its total number of stakes in airlines to seven.

In August, it sealed a five-year contract to manage Serbia’s national carrier, Jat Airways. The 49 per cent equity stake involved Jat being rebranded as Air Serbia.

In November, Etihad was given regulatory approval to take a 24 per cent stake in India’s Jet Airways.

Etihad also said it intended to buy 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.

In addition, Etihad has signed new codeshare deals with seven carriers.

Bangkok was once again the airline’s busiest route, with a total of 742,759 passengers flying to the Thai capital. Manila, London, Jeddah and Paris were the next most popular routes.

The airline added new aircraft, bringing its fleet total to 89, with an average age of 5.2 years.

tarnold@thenational.ae