Etihad Airways A330-200. By Rob Finlayson

Etihad Airways (EY) said it exceeded its target of breaking even in 2011 by posting a $14 million net profit for the full year, marking the first time the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, launched in 2003, was in the black on an annual basis.

"Five years ago we said we would be profitable by 2011," president and CEO James Hogan (ATW, Jan. 1), who took over the carrier's helm in 2006, said in a statement. "Despite the global financial crisis, continued high oil prices, regional instability and natural disasters, we have delivered. The mandate from our shareholder [the emirate of Abu Dhabi] was to create an airline that is best in class, operates to the highest safety standards, and makes money—and we have achieved this mandate."

EY was ATW's 2012 Passenger Service Award winner (ATW, Feb. 1).

EY's 2011 full-year revenue increased by 36% compared to 2010 to $4.1 billion including a 23.9% rise in passenger revenue to $2.96 billion. Traffic grew 15.8% year-over-year to 38.7 billion RPKs on a 13% lift in capacity to 51 billion ASKs, leading to a load factor of 75.8%, up 1.8 points.

The airline's fleet grew by seven units to 64 aircraft by year end and its workforce heightened 15.1% to 9,038.

EY's move late last year to increase its shareholding in Air Berlin to 29.21% (ATW Daily News, Dec. 20, 2011) "will be our most important catalyst for growth in 2012," Hogan said. "It has given us instant access to Europe's largest travel market, and will have a major impact on revenues in 2012, with an expected contribution of up to $50 million."

Etihad Crystal Cargo's 2011 revenue was up 25.7% compared to 2010 to $651 million as tonnage carried increased by 17.8% to 310,188 tonnes.