Etihad Airways delivered another year of sustained growth in 2016 and carried 18.5 million guests, up six per cent on 2015.

During the year, Etihad Airways operated more than 109,000 scheduled passenger and cargo flights spanning around 446 million kilometers and 112 destinations. Capacity, measured in available seat kilometers (ASK), grew by nine percent and passenger traffic, measured by revenue passenger kilometers (RPK), rose by eight per cent. The average load factor held steady at 79 percent.

Etihad Airways’ fleet of 119 aircraft is one of the youngest and most environmentally-friendly in the industry, with an average age of 6 years. During the year, the airline took delivery of 10 aircraft: three Airbus A380s, five Boeing 787s and two Boeing 777-200 cargo freighters. An additional 12 aircraft are set for delivery in 2017, including nine Boeing 787s, two Airbus A380s and one A330-200 freighter. Etihad holds the strongest credit rating in the aviation industry (A by Fitch), demonstrating the strength of its successful business model which is widely acknowledged by the international financial community.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group (EAG), said: “2016 saw sustained growth in a very tough business environment. This is where Etihad Airways’ superior products and services show their true value and where the strength of the EAG business model comes into effect through its diversity of businesses, cost-effective synergies and global spread of risk. Most importantly, in 2016 we were able to introduce our new Group structure, which positions this business for long-term growth and development.”

Etihad Airways launched Venice in Italy, Rabat in Morocco and Sabiha Gokcen in Turkey as new destinations in 2016. The much-admired Airbus A380 began serving Mumbai and Melbourne, and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was deployed on new routes, including Perth, Shanghai, Johannesburg, and Dusseldorf.  The airline added a fifth daily flight on the Doha route, an extra daily flight to Cairo and Kozhikode, and increased frequencies to Dammam, Manila, and Tehran.

Etihad Airways carried more than 76 percent of the total passengers who traveled to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2016. With the addition of the airline’s equity partners that operate flights into the UAE capital, the combined total rises to 86 percent of passenger traffic at the airport.

The airline’s codeshare and equity partnerships delivered 5.5 million passengers onto Etihad Airways’ flights, an increase of nine per cent over the five million passengers in 2015.

The airline launched new codeshare agreements with Avianca Colombia, Avianca Brasil, Kulula, Precision Air and Montenegro Airlines. Etihad Airways’ existing codeshares with airberlin, Alitalia, Brussels Airlines, Flynas, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, and Virgin Australia were significantly expanded. Etihad Airways also launched new interline agreements with Lufthansa, Pegasus, Malindo and LATAM. As a result, the airline now offers a combined passenger and cargo network of nearly 600 destinations through its 188 interline and 53 codeshare partnerships.

Etihad Airways’ equity partner network, including airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia and Etihad Regional, represents the seventh largest global grouping of airlines. In 2016, the combined fleet of 705 aircraft carried 126.6 million guests.

In November, Etihad Airways Engineering dealt with a record-breaking week of heavy maintenance at its state-of-the-art facility in Abu Dhabi. Aircraft from six of the seven partner airlines were worked on by the company’s 3,000-strong team.