Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the UAE, has reported its strongest ever first half figures, with passenger numbers rising 11 per cent and cargo traffic up 21.6 per cent.
The growth in passenger numbers, to almost 3.3 million, was accompanied by a rise in seat factors, from 71.5 per cent to 72.5 per cent. There was also a 21.6 per cent increase in cargo tonnage carried during the quarter, with revenues up by 59 per cent.
Despite growth of 20.9 per cent in available seat kilometres (ASKs), the airline reduced its costs per available seat kilometre by 4 per cent in the six months ended 30 June 2010.
The improvements were seen despite the difficulties caused by the volcanic ash which covered Europe’s air routes in April, causing severe disruption to air travel during the month.
The figures mark Etihad’s best first half performance and signal a return to strong passenger and cargo growth, following the impacts of the global economic recession.
Highlights of the second quarter included the establishment of non-stop flights from Abu Dhabi to Tokyo, with Etihad the first Middle Eastern airline to operate to the Japanese capital. The airline also launched new non-stop services to Baghdad and Erbil. And in May, Etihad was named the Middle East’s Leading Airline at the World Travel Awards for the Middle East in May, one of six awards on the night.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are very pleased with our performance over the first half of this year. Despite the continuing economic challenges faced by all airlines, our investment in infrastructure and in our service offer is paying off.
“Looking forward, the trends are promising, with forward bookings on an upward trajectory. We are also seeing signs of improvements in premium traffic.
“With this continued improvement in our passenger and cargo traffic, particularly in the premium cabins, we are confident of meeting our targets.”
The airline will operate a total of 1,032 flights a week this summer, a 16 per cent rise on the 888 weekly flights that operated during the same season in 2009. The airline has reported strong forward bookings for the summer.