Abu Dhabi, April 28 (IANS) Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said its net income surged in 2015, driven by expanding markets, most in Asia.

Its profit hit $103 million last year, up 41.1 percent from the previous $73 million, according to the latest data on Wednesday, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The figure marks our best annual financial performance to date, " James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said in an e-mailed statement.

He said the airline's global network has started six new routes, most of them linking Asian cities, including Kolkata, Madrid, Hong Kong, Entebbe, Edinburgh and Dar es Salaam.

The capacity has been improved by bigger aircraft, leading to more frequent flights and higher seat occupancy, Hogan added.

Etihad Airways carried a total of 17.6 million passengers in 2015, up 18.9 percent year on year. The rate outperformed the regional market growth, which has been declining since 2014.

"Our profitability demonstrates the success of our business strategy, based on organic growth boosted by our partnership," said Hogan.

Etihad Airways now offers a combined passenger and cargo network of nearly 600 destinations through its 197 interline and 49 codeshare partnerships.

The airline has the world's highest level services with living room, bathroom and bedroom aboard its Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 planes.