The figure represents a record start to the year and puts the Abu Dhabi-based carrier on course to meet its target of carrying a total of 6 million passengers this year.

Etihad had average load factors of 75 per cent during the first quarter and enjoyed a 25 per cent increase in yield.

On 30 March, the airline launched direct flights between Abu Dhabi and the Chinese capital, Beijing. A series of new destinations in India will also be added to the network this year.