Etihad Airways carried 17.4 million passengers in 2015, a rise of 17 per cent over 2014 levels.
Neverthless CEO James Hogan cited protectionism as one of the potential obstcales to growth for the airline.
Etihad has recently faced legal challenges in the German courts over its Air Berlin codeshares (see news, January 2016), and the airline is part of a long running dispute with the American carriers (for more on this, click here).
The airline started flights to six additional destinations in 2015: Kolkata, Madrid, Edinburgh, Entebbe, Hong Kong, and Dar es Salaam, and a new direct service to Brisbane. It deployed the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner which entered commercial service on routes to Washington DC, Zurich, Singapore and Brisbane, while the Airbus A380 network was expanded with a second service to London Heathrow and new flights to Sydney and New York.
This year, the airline will commence its third daily A380 service to London Heathrow, and will add two new A380 destinations of Mumbai and Melbourne, while the Boeing 787 will start flying to five new cities, namely Düsseldorf, Perth, Shanghai, Istanbul and Johannesburg.
Etihad Airways also increased frequencies on 16 existing routes across the world in 2015. These were Bangkok, Chennai, Dammam, Delhi, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Istanbul, Jeddah, Kochi, Kozhikode, Melbourne, Mumbai, Muscat, Seychelles, Tehran and Trivandrum.
The airline also expanded its codeshare and equity partnerships, delivering more than five million passengers onto Etihad Airways’ flights, an increase of 43 per cent over the 3.5 million passengers in 2014.
A new codeshare agreement was launched with Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), while Etihad Airways’ existing codeshares with Air Serbia, American Airlines, flynas, Jet Airways, Korean Air, NIKI and S7 Airlines were expanded. As reported here, in April 2015, the airline obtained regulatory approval from Switzerland’s Federal Office of Civil Aviation, FOCA, to finalise a 33.3 per cent investment in the Swiss regional carrier, Darwin Airline. In June, Darwin Airline, trading as Etihad Regional, became the latest addition to Etihad Airways’ equity partners network, which also includes airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, Jet Airways and Virgin Australia. Etihad Airways’ equity partnerships represent the seventh largest global grouping of airlines, together flying more than 100 million guests.
Etihad Airways’ fleet consisted of 121 aircraft at the end of 2015 (and increase of nine per cent year-on-year), with an average age of 5.8 years. The airline took delivery of 11 Airbus (four A380s, six A321s and one A320) and four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft in 2015, while further leased capacity was also added.
Etihad Airways will receive 10 aircraft deliveries this year, including five Boeing 787-9s, three A380s and two Boeing 777-200 Freighters.
Mr Hogan said: “We enter 2016 with confidence as a stronger, more dynamic airline that will continue to support the evolution of Abu Dhabi as a global aviation hub. We continue to face challenges, not least the protectionism of the major American and European legacy carriers. We will continue to fight to bring new competitive choice to travellers around the world.”