Etihad Airways has said it hopes to increase the number of passengers it carries this year by 15 per cent to seven million.

Etihad Airways has said it hopes to increase the number of passengers it carries this year by 15 per cent to seven million.

In a statement, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier said it flew six million people on 50 routes last year and is optimistic about its prospects for 2009.

“Etihad Airways will seek to continue its expansion plans during 2009,” chief executive James Hogan commented.

He added that the company is to add another five destinations to its schedules this year, with flights to Melbourne on the agenda.

It will also increase its fleet size to more than 50 aircraft to cater for the growing demand in services, Mr Hogan said.

In December, Etihad – which was launched in 2003 – revealed that its passenger reward programme which began in 2006 had achieved 500,000 members.

The carrier has won over 40 awards for its services during its six years in operation.

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