Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways has reported a 27% annual rise in revenues to $1.4bn for the first quarter of 2014 on the back of surging passenger and cargo figures.

Etihad said income from equity partners and codesharing deals increased 23% to $223 million in the first three months of 2014, compared with the same period last year. 

The fast-growing Gulf airline declined to say whether it registered any profits or losses in the quarter.

Passenger volumes increased 14% over the same period to 3.2 million, while cargo volumes grew 26% to 127,821 tonnes, said Etihad.

"Organic growth was supported by the development of codeshare and equity partnerships, which delivered 678,000 passengers onto Etihad Airways flights in the first quarter of 2014, 25% higher than the same period last year," it said in a statement.

Etihad carried 11.5 million passengers last year, earning $6.1bn in revenues, of which it kept $62 million as profit.

Launched in 2003, Etihad is expanding rapidly and has bought minor shares in several smaller carriers around the world as it competes with larger Gulf rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Etihad owns 29% of Air Berlin, 40% of Air Seychelles, 19.9% of Virgin Australia and 3% of Aer Lingus.

It also owns a 24% stake in India's Jet Airways.

The company is in advanced talks to buy a stake in Italy's struggling Alitalia.

Italy's Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi last week said an assessment of Alitalia's accounts had been completed and hinted an offer from Etihad could be imminent. 

The two companies have been in contact since December and in February they said they had entered a "final phase" in the process but Alitalia is laden with debts and negotiations have been hugely complicated.

Etihad is reportedly planning to take a stake of between 40 and 49% in the Italian carrier - below the 49.9% limit for non-European airlines.