Abu Dhabi's carrier Etihad Airways is projecting $5 billion in revenues in 2012, up from $4.1 billion last year, and hopes to sustain profitability, its chief executive said on Sunday. The UAE flag carrier that is owned by the rich emirate of Abu Dhabi is "projecting $5 billion in revenues in 2012," Etihad's CEO James Hogan told participants in the World Route Development Strategy Summit in Abu Dhabi. He also said that the carrier was looking to keep "sustainable profitability in place" after posting $14 million in net profits last year, in its first-ever registered profit since it began operations in 2003. Hogan said the fast growing airline made $281 million in the first half of 2012 in revenues from partnerships and code-sharing with other carriers. Etihad has equities in Ireland's Aer Lingus, airberlin, Air Seychelles and Virgin Australia. The carrier operates a fleet of 67 aircraft with an average age of 4.9 years, and has many on order. It is competing with major fast-growing Gulf carriers, Emirates of Dubai and Qatar Airways, as the three airlines vie to strengthen their share of traffic between Europe, Asia and Australia. "We are highly competitive with our neighbours," Hogan said, stressing however that the Gulf region is at a "crossroad" and can accommodate three carriers. And he acknowledges that the government-owned carrier has a long way to go to catch up with competitors. "When we peak, we'll still be the half-size of our major competitor in the UAE," he said in reference to Emirates, the largest carrier in the Middle East.