Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, carried a record 8.29 million passengers in 2011, a 17 per cent increase on the previous year.
The jump represented an extra 1.197 million passengers on the carrier’s global network covering 82 passenger and cargo destinations.
Etihad Crystal Cargo also enjoyed similar spectacular growth carrying a record 310, 000 tonnes, 46,875 tonnes or 18 per cent more than in 2010.
“This result, achieved while much of the world was still very much in the economic doldrums and oil prices remained high, is testament to our emergence as a formidable force in the international aviation arena,” Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Hogan, said.
“It also reflects our commitment to sensible, strategic expansion which is why we launched eight new routes last year,” he said.
These were to Bangalore, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Chengdu, Dusseldorf, Tripoli, Shanghai and Nairobi.
Etihad Airways’ busiest route was Bangkok with the airline carrying more than 500,000 passengers to the Thai capital during the year.
This was closely followed by London (479,000), Manila (446,000), and Jeddah (289,000) which represented a staggering 48 per cent increase over 2010.
Then came Sydney, Frankfurt, Paris, Manchester, Doha and Dublin to complete the list of the 10 most popular routes.
”In cargo, the strongest growth was seen out of Europe as exports from markets such as Germany and Italy held firm during a challenging back half of the year,” Mr Hogan said.
“We launched freighter services into Amsterdam, Cairo, Djibouti, Kabul and Kandahar during the year, increased operations to our key markets of China and India while growing Johannesburg by up to three freighters a week.”
A priority product Fast-Track was launched offering shorter transit time and expedited delivery as well as a guaranteed service delivery. Expanded trucking schedules within the UAE and new service to points in the GCC region provided more solutions for customers.
Etihad Crystal Cargo also introduced its first Boeing 777F during the year with two more now scheduled for delivery in 2013.
“We also delivered exceptional service moving rare and precious goods. These included 100 historic manuscripts from Berlin’s State Library (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) to the National Library of Australia (NLA) in Canberra and live sturgeon to the first caviar producing firm in the UAE, Royal Caviar.
“And we continued to facilitate trade to and from the UAE as the National Carrier and assisted many projects, shows and events as well as humanitarian missions fulfilling our role as a member of Care by Air,” Mr Hogan said.