Growth in passenger demand continued to surpass Etihad Airways’ capacity increase last year.

The UAE carrier flew 17.4 million passengers, up 17% on 2014, as it operated 97,400 flights.

The airline carried more than three quarters of the total passengers who travelled to and from Abu Dhabi international airport in 2015.

With the addition of the airline’s equity partners that operate flights into the UAE capital, the combined total rose to 84% of passenger traffic at the airport.

Etihad Airways introduced six destinations to its global network in 2015, with new flights to Kolkata, Madrid, Edinburgh, Entebbe, Hong Kong, and Dar es Salaam, and a new direct service to Brisbane.

The fleet was boosted with the deployment of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on routes to Washington DC, Zurich, Singapore and Brisbane.

The Airbus A380 network was expanded with a second service to Heathrow and new flights to Sydney and New York.

The airline will introduce a third daily A380 service to London this year and will add the superjumbo on services Mumbai and Melbourne. B787s will start flying to Düsseldorf, Perth, Shanghai, Istanbul and Johannesburg.

President and chief executive, James Hogan, said: “We enter 2016 with confidence as a stronger, more dynamic airline that will continue to support the evolution of Abu Dhabi as a global aviation hub.”

But he added: ”We continue to face challenges, not least the protectionism of the major American and European legacy carriers. We will continue to fight to bring new competitive choice to travellers around the world.”