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Etihad posts record passenger numbers in Q2

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has reported that it achieved record passenger numbers and a 31% jump in revenues in the second-quarter, putting it on pace to deliver full-year profitability.

Etihad’s Q2 revenues climbed to $1.25bn from $957m a year earlier, while passenger numbers increased 34% to 2.55 million in the period. The carrier said its growing network of codeshares and strategic partnerships played a major role in helping achieve its record results.

It said that recent deals, including taking stakes in Aer Lingus and Virgin Australia, had helped add 800,000 passengers to its network, contributing $281m. The airline also has minority shareholdings in airberlin and Air Seychelles.

“These results are an endorsement of our strategy, which has seen us widen and deepen our partnerships in addition to continued focus on our organic growth plan,” CEO James Hogan said.
Etihad’s available seat kilometres (ASKs) rose 25% to 15.2bn in the second quarter, as the fleet grew to 67 aircraft from 61. Revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 33% to 11.8bn.

The average seat factor was 4.6 percentage points higher in the quarter compared to the previous year, up to 77.6%.

“In a quarter when many airlines have seen demand softening, we have been able to add more passengers than ever before, with growth outstripping our capacity increases,” Hogan said.

Etihad posted its first-ever profit last year, and Hogan said the carrier is on pace to do so again in 2012 despite challenging market conditions. “This continues to be a tough operating environment for all airlines. Our strategies allow us to drive quality revenue and we remain focused and on track to deliver profitability for the full year, for the second year running,” he said.

Etihad launched new routes to Basra and Nairobi during the quarter, and started a new Abu Dhabi-Lagos service on July 1, bringing its direct network of cities served up to 87. It also announced new codeshare agreements which brought its total passenger network up to 308 destinations, by far the largest of any Gulf carrier.

Last month, Etihad unveiled plans to launch daily flights to Sao Paolo in Brazil, its first South American destination, which will start in June 2013.