By Neil Halligan
Abu Dhabi-based airline says it flew a total of 17.4m passengers last year; 75% of total Abu Dhabi traffic
Etihad Airways said on Tuesday that it recorded a 17 percent growth in passenger numbers in 2015.
The UAE’s national airline carried a total of 17.4 million passengers last year and accounted for 75 percent of total travellers who flew in and out of its Abu Dhabi hub.
Etihad said with the addition of its equity partners that operate flights into the UAE capital, the combined total rises to 84 percent of passenger traffic at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The growth in passenger demand continued to surpass the airline’s capacity increase, which Etihad CEO James Hogan said underscored the strength of its long-term growth strategy.
“In 2015, we were able to bring new competitive choice to millions of travellers, through our award-winning services and through the growing networks of our equity partners. No airline group is doing more to stimulate new competition in the aviation industry,” Hogan said.
Etihad grew its global network in 2015, with six additional destinations in Kolkata, Madrid, Edinburgh, Entebbe, Hong Kong, and Dar es Salaam, and a new direct service to Brisbane.
Last year also saw Etihad Airways’ fleet boosted by the deployment of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which entered commercial service on routes to Washington DC, Zurich, Singapore and Brisbane.
The Airbus A380 network was expanded with a second service to London Heathrow and new flights to Sydney and New York.
The airline plans to start its third daily A380 service to London Heathrow this year, and will add two new A380 destinations of Mumbai and Melbourne, while the Boeing 787 will start flying to five new cities, Düsseldorf, Perth, Shanghai, Istanbul and Johannesburg.
Complementing its organic growth, the airline also expanded its codeshare and equity partnerships last year and now offers a combined passenger and cargo network of nearly 600 destinations through its 197 interline and 49 codeshare partnerships.
These partnerships delivered more than five million passengers onto Etihad Airways’ flights, an increase of 43 percent over the 3.5 million passengers in 2014.
Etihad Airways also reported strong cargo volumes for 2015, with 592,090 tonnes of freight and mail flown in total, a 4 percent increase year-on-year.
To support the next phase of its global network expansion, Etihad Airways will receive 10 aircraft deliveries this year, including five Boeing 787-9s, three A380s and two Boeing 777-200 Freighters.