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ABU DHABI: Etihad Airways, the UAE national carrier, reported net profits of US$62 million - up 48 percent over the previous year. Gross revenue rose 27 percent to US$6.1 billion year-on-year to produce a 22 jump in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of US$208 million.

Etihad Cargo increased revenue from US$716 million to US$928 million in the period and helped mark the airline's third successive year of net profitability in the past decade.

James Hogan, president and CEO commented: "This shows what focused business strategy can deliver. We have identified cargo as a major growth opportunity for Etihad Airways and its partners, and this will be a billion dollar business in 2014."

Freighter ready for pushbackHogan noted the airline has reached every financial target in the last seven years, "bringing sustainable profitability to a business that has grown from just US$300 million in revenues in 2005 to more than US$6 billion today."

He added he was "particularly pleased" to be able to produce a dividend for the airline's shareholder, the emirate of Abu Dhabi, as a result of the airline's "unique strategy" of combining organic growth with wide-ranging partnerships and minority equity investments in strategically important carriers around the world.

In accordance wiA330F in Parking Bayth its shareholder mandate to operate as a fully commercial entity, last year the airline increased its financing portfolio from 60 to 70 partners and added US$2.14 billion to a fund that is now almost US$9 billion for aircraft acquisitions.

In addition to four existing investments in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus, in 2013 Etihad acquired a 24 percent stake in India's Jet Airways; a 49 percent stake in Air Serbia (formerly Jat Airways) and a 33.3 per cent shareholding in Darwin Airline, a regional carrier based in Switzerland.

Etihad Cargo added three new freighters during 2013 – two Boeing 777-200Fs and one Airbus A330-200F. It also wet leased a Boeing 747-400ERF from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and a Boeing 747-8F from Atlas Air to replace two older aircraft.

This year the airline will introduce 18 new aircraft including its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and Airbus A380 and begin services to nine new destinations: Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Rome, Zurich, Jaipur, Perth, Phuket, Medina and Yerevan.

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