Etihad passenger revenue up 10 pct on alliances

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Etihad Airways said passenger revenue rose 10 percent in the third quarter as Abu Dhabi's flagship carrier expanded globally through partnership deals.

The unlisted UAE carrier has been nurturing its international network through code-sharing deals and minority stake purchases over the past 10 years as it faces growing competition at home from regional rivals such as Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways.

Etihad, which has stakes in Air Berlin and Virgin Australia, signed deals with South African Airways, Air Canada, Belarus' Belavia and Korean Air in the third quarter.

It is expanding its partnerships by managing Serbia's JAT Airways and buying into India's Jet Airways.

Passenger revenue for the three months to September totalled $1.03 billion versus $938 million in the same period of 2012, the state-owned airline said in a statement. For the first nine months of 2013 the figure rose 12 percent to $2.9 billion.

Some $247 million came from code-sharing and equity alliance airline partners in the quarter, up 36 percent over the same period last year. Partnership revenue comprised 23 percent of the airline's total passenger revenue in the third quarter.

Code-sharing involves two or more airlines sharing the same flight with passengers able to purchase a ticket on one airline, although the actual flight may be operated by another under a different flight number or code.

Etihad said last month it expected the $600 million Jet Airways deal to be approved by the Indian government imminently. On Monday, it said it had made progress with the acquisition plans.

Etihad's cargo business, in tonnage terms, grew 41 per cent in the third quarter year-on-year, the statement said.

The average seat occupancy, or seat factor, in the third quarter was 81 percent, same as in the third quarter of 2012.