A number of factors contributed to the rapid growth of Etihad Cargo's revenues in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2013, including stellar performances in the Indian (up by 32 per cent) and Chinese (up by 14 per cent) markets, the launch of new routes to Brazil and Vietnam, and heavy demand for charter solutions, the airline said in a statement.
Cargo volumes were also strengthened by the launch of a joint freighter service with DHL, serving Pakistan and the Gulf Cooperation Council markets out of Abu Dhabi.
Etihad Airways announced its strongest ever passenger and cargo volumes for a first quarter, together with USD 1.4 billion in total revenues during the three-month period, marking a year-on-year increase of 27 per cent.
A total of 3.2 million passengers travelled with Etihad Airways during the first quarter of 2014, over 14 per cent higher than the 2.8 million passengers from the same period last year.
A recent estimate from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that passenger demand will increase by 5.8 per cent this year on a global basis, it said.
Etihad Cargo also outperformed the global market, carrying 127,821 tonnes of freight and mail in the first quarter. This marks a year-on-year increase of 26 per cent, almost seven times higher than IATA's prediction that the international cargo market will grow by four per cent in 2014.
The airline's cargo revenue also increased by 26 per cent to USD 243 million placing Etihad Cargo on track to become a billion dollar business in 2014.
"Although the global airline industry has faced challenges such as higher-than-expected fuel prices and fierce competition in key international markets during the first quarter of 2014, we have continued to outperform the passenger and cargo markets, and raise the bar even further for Etihad Airways," James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said.
Hogan said that the airline's strong performance highlights the continued success of Etihad Airways' strategic master plan, which focuses on the three fundamental pillars of organic network growth, code-share partnerships and minority equity investments in other airlines around the world.
"This unique strategy, and the investments we have made in product, service and infrastructure, means that Etihad Airways is positioned strongly for top-line growth and bottom-line delivery in 2014," Hogan said.