United Arab Emirates national carrier Etihad Airways is calling 2013 a "record breaking year," as the airline reported its highest ever increase in passenger and cargo volumes last year.
Etihad carried nearly 12 million passengers in 2013, a 16 percent increase over the previous year. The Middle East airline reports Bangkok as its busiest route, with more than 740,000 passengers flying to Thailand's capital city, a 7 percent increase over 2012.
James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways, said the 2013 numbers reflect the state run carrier's "strategic master plan," focusing on "organic network growth, the forging of codeshare partnerships and minority equity investments in other airlines."
Additionally, a total of 79 percent of the passenger traffic that traveled through Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2013 were flying on Etihad or its equity alliance partners' aircraft. During 2013, Etihad purchased stakes in three other airlines, including a 49 percent share of Jat Airways, which was rebranded as Air Serbia; a 24 percent stake in India's Jet Airways and a 33.3 percent holding in Switzerland's Darwin Airline.
Six new routes were also added to the Etihad network in 2013, including Washington, D.C., Sao Paulo, Belgrade, Sana'a and Ho Chi Minh City.
The airline also reported impressive air cargo numbers, carrying 486,753 tons of freight, an increase of 32 percent over 2012. According to Etihad, China and India were the top destinations for its air cargo routes in 2013; and the airline transported more than 89 percent of air cargo moving through Abu Dhabi.