The rise signified an additional 1.2 million passengers on the carrier’s global network, covering 82 cargo and passenger destinations.
Etihad’s cargo haulage business, Etihad Crystal Cargo, also saw significant growth, carrying a record 310,000 tonnes – 46, 875 tonnes (or 18%) more than in 2010.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways chief executive, said: “This result, achieved while much of the world was still very much in the economic doldrums and oil prices remained high, is testament to our emergence as a formidable force in the international aviation arena,”
“It also reflects our commitment to sensible, strategic expansion which is why we launched eight new routes last year.”
The new routes Hogan referred to are the Maldives, Bangalore, the Seychelles, Chengdu, Dusseldorf, Tripoli, Nairobi and Shanghai.
The airline’s busiest route was to Bangkok, with more than 500,000 passengers travelling with Etihad to the Thai capital during the year.
This was followed by London with 479,000, Manila with 446,000 and Jeddah with 289,000, which represented a 48% increase by 2010.
Completing the list of the ten most popular routes were Sydney, Frankfurt, Paris, Manchester, Doha and Dublin.
Hogan also said: “In cargo, the strongest growth was seen out of Europe as exports from markets such as Germany and Italy held firm during a challenging back half of the year,”
“We launched freighter services into Amsterdam, Cairo, Djibouti, Kabul and Kandahar during the year, increased operations to our key markets of China and India while growing Johannesburg by up to three freighters a week.”
2011 also saw Etihad Crystal Cargo introduce its first Boeing 777F during the year, with 2 more scheduled for delivery in 2013.