Etihad Witnesses 49% Year-On-Year Passenger Growth As It Welcomes 3 New Boeing 787-9s

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  • Etihad Airways saw a 49% passenger growth last month, showing confidence in travel growth and the return of tourism in the UAE.
  • The carrier welcomed 3 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners in February and announced network expansions to new destinations like Antalya and Jaipur.
  • With a fleet expansion and increased load factor, Etihad Airways is on track towards full recovery post-COVID, signaling positive growth ahead.

Etihad Airways experienced a massive 49% passenger growth last month compared to February 2023. In addition to experiencing significant growth, the carrier announced network expansions and welcomed three new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Strong February

On March 15, Etihad Airways, one of the flag carriers of the United Arab Emirates, published its preliminary traffic statistics for February 2024. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier saw an 89% load factor in February 2024, up by 1% compared to last year’s 88% load factor. The COVID-19 pandemic heavily impacted the airline; it had to take drastic measures to stay afloat, such as retiring its fleet of Airbus A330s. It, therefore, is an excellent indicator of sustained demand for the carrier and shows confidence in travel and the return of solid tourism in the UAE.

Fun Fact: Did you know Etihad means “the union” in Arabic? The name was chosen to symbolize the union of the Emirates.

February ’23

February ’24

Full year 2023

Full year 2024


1 million

1.4 million

2.0 million

2,9 million

Load Factor





Fleet size





Etihad’s CEO, Antonoaldo Neves, said this about the February report.

In February 2024, we saw a 46% year-on-year growth in customer numbers as we continued our growth strategy. Our year-to-date (YTD) passenger figures at 2.9 million are 40% higher than at year-to-date February 2023.

“February was a busy month; we strengthened our fleet, welcoming three new 787-9s, a move aligned with our network expansion strategy of adding new destinations and expanding frequencies into key markets.

We also announced two new routes that will begin this year: Antalya, Turkey, and Jaipur, India, the latter representing our eleventh non-stop connection between Abu Dhabi and the Indian Subcontinent.

A period of expansion for the Gulf carrier

Since the end of the Covid pandemic, the UAE’s national carrier has seen positive fleet development. In 2022, Etihad Airways introduced a brand-new widebody to their fleet, the Airbus A350-1000. The airline has a fleet of five of the type, and they fly to destinations such as London, Paris, New York, and Chicago.

Etihad Airbus A350-1000 Inflight Closeup

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

More recently, in January 2024, the airline saw daily Airbus A380 flights to the British capital, London, and the superjumbo will also return to super-long-haul services to New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to the carrier’s Abu Dhabi hub. Today, their fleet comprises 89 aircraft with a healthy mix of long-haul widebody aircraft like the 787-10, 777, and the superjumbo. It also has a solid short-haul narrowbody fleet consisting of A320 family aircraft mainly used on flights to the GCC and Indian sub-continent.


Etihad’s Airbus A350 Makes Debut With All New Business Class

After more than two years parked up, the A350-1000 has finally entered revenue service for Etihad today.

Overall, Etihad Airways is still on the road to recovery. Still, the continued growth of their load factor, the return demand for travel to the UAE, and the fleet expansion to respond to the demand highlight that the airline is progressing towards full recovery. We expect the next few years to see continued progress, and hopefully, we will see Etihad recover entirely shortly.

Have you flown on Etihad recently? How was your experience? Please let us know in the comments below.

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