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Year-to-date passenger figures, at 2.9 million, are 40% higher than in February 2023. Image Credit: Etihad Airways

Abu Dhabi: UAE’s flag carrier Etihad Airways welcomed more than 1.4 million passengers onboard last month and saw its load factor average 89 per cent across the month, the airline revealed in its February traffic statistics.

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“In February 2024, we saw a 46 per cent year-on-year growth in customer numbers as we continue our growth strategy,” said Antonoaldo Neves, CEO of Etihad Airways. “Our year-to-date (YTD) passenger figures, at 2.9 million, are 40 percent higher than in February 2023."

“February was a busy month. We strengthened our fleet, welcoming three new 787-9s, a move aligned with our network expansion strategy of adding new destinations and expanding frequencies into key markets.

The load factor is a metric used in the airline industry that measures the percentage of available seating capacity filled with passengers. A high load factor indicates that an airline has sold most of its available seats and is preferred over a low load factor.

He added, “We also announced two new routes which will begin this year: Antalya, Turkey and Jaipur, India, the latter representing our eleventh non-stop connection between Abu Dhabi and the Indian Subcontinent.”

Last week, the airline announced it had recorded an operating profit of Dh1.4 billion ($394 million) in 2023, driven by Dh4 billion ($1.1 billion) year-on-year growth in passenger revenue and a seven per cent drop in non-fuel costs.

Etihad Airways posted a net profit of Dh525 million ($143 million), with total revenue rising 11 per cent to Dh20.3 billion ($5.5 billion) from the previous year. The airline also said it saw a 40 per cent year-on-year increase in its passenger numbers, from 10 million to 14 million, and passenger revenue increased by Dh4 billion ($1.1 billion) to Dh16.7 billion ($4.5 billion).

The airline experienced an overall load factor of 86 per cent, compared to 82 per cent in 2022. Neves said the airline’s unit for revenue, or price per kilometre, is lower than that of its significant competitors Emirates and Qatar Airways. “Our load factors are 86 per cent. We are offering Rome to Abu Dhabi roundtrip tickets for Dh1,110 (for example),” he said. The airline hired 2,300 new employees last year, primarily pilots and cabin crew.