Despite the global economic crisis, Etihad Airways has
ambitious plans for 2009 aiming to increase its passenger numbers by 15% to a
total of seven million.
The airline will expand its
global flight network to 55 destinations during the year as well as grow
its fleet to more than 50 aircraft. Etihad flew six million passengers
in 2008 to 50 routes with a fleet of 42 aircraft.
total of 900 weekly Etihad flights will operate this summer, a 20% rise on the 750 weekly flights which operated during the same
season in 2008.
Eleven new passenger aircraft are set to
join Etihad’s fleet in 2009 which will enable Etihad to launch new
services to Melbourne, Istanbul, Athens, Larnaca and Chicago, as well as
increase frequencies on many existing routes across its network of
The additional aircraft will
increase Etihad’s seat capacity by 18% and cargo capacity by 12% to 3.5 million tonnes.
Currently Etihad has a
fleet of 44 narrow and wide-body aircraft which will rise to 52, with
one aircraft retiring recently from the current fleet, by the end of
2009. The new additions consist of two Airbus A330-200s, one A330-300,
two A340-600s, five A320-200s and one Boeing 777-300ER.
Etihad achieved more than US$2.5 billion in revenues in 2008 and is
targeting US$3 billion in 2009, an increase of 20%.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said, “The aviation
industry is facing its toughest challenge for many years as a result of
the current global economic crisis but Etihad Airways will seek to
continue its expansion plans during 2009 in a measured, considered and
“The new aircraft arrivals will boost
our fleet by a quarter and allow us to launch flights to five new
destinations as well as build depth and frequency into our existing
“We have an excellent award-winning product in
all three aircraft cabins, and will target an average seat factor of 77
per cent, to help us achieve our ambitious plans to fly seven million
passengers during the year.
“Although we will watch our
costs very carefully we will not cut back on customer service nor will
we compromise whatsoever on safety, the absolute bedrock of our
Etihad has a workforce of 7,300 and plans to
recruit a further 1,000 employees during the year, bringing total staff
numbers to 8,500, an increase of 15%.
crew numbers will grow by 65 during 2009. In addition, 25 trainee pilots
are expected to graduate from the airline’s Emirati and international
cadet pilot programmes, bringing the total number of pilots to 840 by
the end of the year. This will represent an increase in pilots of 11%. Furthermore, nearly 100 new cadet pilots will start training with
Etihad during the year.
Etihad currently has 2,900 cabin crew
members in its ranks and the airline plans to recruit an
additional 200 people during 2009, bringing the total
number of crew to 3,100 by the end of the year, an
increase of 10%.
launches daily non-stop flights from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne in
Australia. The route will be flown by an Airbus A340-600, configured to
carry 292 passengers and 15 tonnes of cargo. The addition of Melbourne,
which joins Sydney and Brisbane, will mean that Etihad will offer for
sale nearly 5,700 seats a week into Australia.
introduction of flights in June to Istanbul, Athens and Larnaca, as well
as increases in frequency to Brussels, Geneva, Milan and Moscow, means
that Etihad will offer its customers a choice of 98 weekly flights into
14 European countries.
Etihad will also strengthen its
North American network later this year with the launch of flights to
Chicago’s O’Hare airport on 2 September, which will become a daily
non-stop operation from 1 October. Chicago joins Etihad’s established
North American routes to New York and Toronto and boosts capacity to the
continent by 35%.
The airline’s Middle Eastern
network will be strengthened further from 29 March, with Abu Dhabi to
Amman services increasing from 10 to 14 flights per week. Services to
Beirut will also increase to two flights a day from the current 11
flights per week and Doha will receive a boost from three to four
flights a day.
Etihad’s flights from Abu Dhabi to Kuala
Lumpur will increase from six flights a week to daily beginning on 29
The opening of the new Terminal 3 at Abu Dhabi
airport will continue to enhance the experience for Etihad Airways
customers and allow the airline to expand and meet its future growth
Mr Hogan said, “The transfer of Etihad
flights to Terminal 3 is supported by our significant investment in
passenger facilities, such as state-of-the-art premium lounges and
improved check-in areas for premium and economy passengers.”
In addition to improvements to Abu Dhabi airport, the emirate will
also host its first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2009. In addition to its
role as title sponsor for the 1 November race Etihad will fly many of
the drivers, teams and equipment to the UAE’s capital city.
“This year will be a tough one for everyone in
the airline industry but because of Etihad’s investment in its product,
fleet and home-base airport as well as the development in Abu Dhabi - we
are confident that we can continue our impressive growth,” added Mr
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