Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways announced that it expected revenues to grow 24% to $3.1 billion this year as the company takes deliveries of 11 aircraft and boosts passenger numbers by adding at least six new routes.  “We are taking a bullish approach in 2009 despite tough market conditions,” Etihad Chief Executive James Hogan noted.  There are risks, there’s a global recession and we are seeing weakening currencies, softening demand worldwide, volatile oil prices.  But 2009 and 2010 are also years for Gulf airlines to continue to grow.”

That said, world airlines are set to lose $4.7 billion in 2009 as a result of shrinking passenger and cargo demand, industry body IATA said. The International Air Transport Association had estimated in December the industry would lose $2.5 billion in 2009. “The state of the airline industry today is grim. Demand has deteriorated much more rapidly with the economic slowdown than could have been anticipated even a few months ago,” its Director-General Giovanni Bisignani said.