Etihad is the smallest of three rapidly expanding, government-backed Gulf carriers redrawing global aviation maps by funneling travelers through their desert hubs.
Its base in the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi, this year became the first in the Mideast to open a U.S. preclearance facility staffed by American customs and border officials. U.S. pilots and members of Congress have criticized the facility, which is largely funded by the UAE, alleging it puts American carriers at a disadvantage.
Since starting operations in 2003, Etihad has built a fleet of 96 planes. It carried 11.5 million passengers and posted a profit of $62 million last year.
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