Etihad Airways carried a record 8.29 million passengers in 2011, a 17 per cent increase on the previous year.
The jump represented an extra 1.2 million passengers on the carrier’s global network covering 82 passenger and cargo destinations.
Etihad Crystal Cargo also enjoyed similar 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 chief executive James Hogan.
“It also reflects our commitment to sensible, strategic expansion which is why we launched eight new routes last year.”
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 48 per cent increase over 2010.
Then came Sydney, Frankfurt, Paris, Manchester, Doha and Dublin to complete the list of the ten 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,” 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.”
Etihad Crystal Cargo also introduced its first Boeing 777F during the year with two more now scheduled for delivery in 2013.
The national airline of the United Arab Emirates was also recognised as the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards earlier this month.