Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has reported strong operational growth over the past year, carrying 23 percent more passengers and 17 percent more cargo than in 2013.

The airline carried almost 14.8 million passengers – outstripping its capacity increase – and 568,648 tonnes of freight and mail in 2014, marking its strongest operational performance to date.

It accounted for more than 74 percent of the 19.9 million passengers who travelled through Abu Dhabi International Airport last year – 82 percent including the airline’s equity partners that operate flights into the UAE capital – and 89.6 percent of cargo imports, exports and transfers to Abu Dhabi airport, the airline said.

The results follow its acquisition of a 49 percent shareholding in New Alitalia last August – a €560 million ($633 million) investment that included a 75 percent interest in Alitalia Loyalty, which operates the MilleMiglia frequent flier program, and five pairs of slots at London’s Heathrow Airport, which will be leased back to Alitalia. The deal received European Commission merger clearance in November 2014 and became effective on 31 December.

Etihad also introduced 10 new destinations to its route network in 2014, including Medina Jaipur, San Francisco and Zurich. It increased frequencies to its existing services and expanded its codeshare and equity partnerships, for example through new agreements with Air Europa, Hong Kong Airlines, and others.

The partnerships delivered over 3.5 million passengers onto Etihad Airways flights, an increase of 40 percent over the 2.5 million passengers in 2013, Etihad reported.

James Hogan, president and chief executive of Etihad Airways, said: “Our business model, which focuses on organic network growth, codeshare partnerships and minority equity investments in other airlines, continued to yield positive results in 2014 and surpassed our double-digit targets for passenger and cargo growth.

“We enter 2015 as a stronger, more dynamic airline.”