A record number of banking executives have attended Etihad Airways’ financial roadshows this week.

The roadshows, held in New York and London, attracted several hundred bankers from some of the world’s largest financial institutions.

Business interest in the financial affairs of Etihad Airways has surged in the wake of the airline’s historic 2011 profit announcement and equity investments in other airlines.

Earlier this month the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates reported a full year EBIT of US$137 million on revenues up 36 per cent to US$4.1 billion.

The net profit of US$14 million exceeded the airline’s 2011 target which was to break even.

In December Etihad Airways lifted its stake in airberlin, Europe’s sixth largest carrier, to 29.2 per cent and last month announced it was taking a 40 per cent interest in Air Seychelles.

“We have a very strong relationship with the international banking community and we work hard to ensure they understand our business model, what we are doing and why we are doing it,” Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Hogan, said.

“Over the last five years we have raised more than US$5 billion through 41 financial institutions to finance our aircraft.”

In 2008 Etihad Airways ordered 100 new aircraft and 105 options and purchase rights in one of the largest deals in commercial aviation history.

Mr Hogan briefed the bankers on the airline’s achievements in 2011 and outlined its strategy to achieve consistent, sustainable profitability.

“We will continue to build the business through a combination of organic network growth, an expansion of our codeshare partnerships and targeted acquisitions and investments.”

Mr Hogan said the challenges in 2012 included a weak global economy exacerbated by the Euro zone crisis, political instability in parts of the Middle East and North Africa, more regulation, taxes and charges in the European Union, and volatile oil prices.

“Our management policies to minimise financial risk include active fuel hedges with 24 international institutions. We are hedged at 74 per cent for the rest of this year, 50 per cent in 2013, and 25 per cent in 2014.

“There is no easy year in this business but Etihad Airways is well positioned to meet these challenges with the support of the international banking community which continues to underpin our record growth.”