UPDATE 1-Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways 2012 profit triples

Mon Feb 4, 2013 11:39am IST

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ABU DHABI Feb 4 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, which is edging closer to an investment in India's Jet Airways , on Monday said net profit tripled in 2012 as its fast-expanding global network attracted more passengers.

Etihad, which has stakes in Air Berlin and Virgin Australia, earned a net profit of $42 million in 2012, compared with $14 million in the previous year.

Revenue rose 17 percent in 2012 to $4.8 billion from $4.1 billion in 2011, the airline said in a statement.

The eight-year old carrier made its first profit in 2011.

Unlisted Etihad has been on an acquisition drive in recent months, taking minority equity stakes in Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus and raising its shareholding in Air Berlin and Air Seychelles.

A deal with Jet Aiways, which would be the first foreign investment into India's aviation market, is expected this week, an official at the Indian airline, who declined to be identified, said in January.

The UAE carrier competes with key Gulf rivals like Emirates and Qatar Airways, which are all growing their reach into Europe, Asia and other markets.

Etihad said it carried 10.3 million passengers last year, up 23 percent over 2011. The average seat factor was 78.2 percent, up 2.4 percent over 2011.

Equity and codeshare partners contributed to more than 1.2 million passengers tapping Etihad's network. The airline hedged 80 percent of fuel costs during the year, the same level as in 2011. (Reporting By Stanley Carvalho, Editing by Dinesh Nair)

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