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Etihad Airways Reports 25.4% Q1 Growth in RPKs

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Etihad Airways has reported a 25.4% growth in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) in the first quarter of 2010, far out-pacing the industry average and running ahead of the airlines available seat kilometres (ASKs) growth of 22%.

 The improvement, against the first quarter of 2009, was matched by an increase in seat factors, from 73% to 75%.

Passenger numbers increased by 11% and, despite the continuing economic downturn affecting many of Etihads international markets, premium traffic also increased by 5%.

These are encouraging figures. Despite operating in the worst air transport recession in history, Etihad has continued its growth trajectory, said James Hogan, Etihad Airways Chief Executive Office. Our investment in our product and in our brand has helped us to attract higher numbers of passengers in both economy and premium cabins.

The airlines long haul operations made important contributions to its performance in the first quarter, including:

87% seat factors in economy on the new Chicago route;
Asia Pacific and Australian routes all operating at seat factors of more than 80% in the economy cabin; and
European, American and Australian routes all operating at more than two thirds full in the business cabin during the period.

Etihads first quarter figures build on its 2009 performance, which saw RPKs increase by 15% and total passenger numbers rise from 6 million to 6.3 million. Those figures were boosted by eight new route launches through the year, to Melbourne, Astana, Istanbul, Athens, Larnaca, Chicago, Cape Town and Hyderabad.

 2009 was a very difficult year for the global air travel industry. The worst global recession in living memory, coupled with the H1N1 pandemic, led to a huge drop in demand for air travel, Mr Hogan said. Despite facing these same challenges, Etihad managed to increase passenger numbers and saw a large growth in our RPK figures. This was helped by the continued expansion of our route network, by the growth of our fleet by 10 aircraft and by the aggressive sales and marketing of our services.

Seat factor through 2009 was 74%, holding steady on the 2008 level.

 We reduced our costs per available seat kilometre (CASK) by more than 14% during the year, a sizeable reduction, Mr Hogan added. We are seeing the results of the implementation of our business strategy over the last three years coming to fruition. An outstanding product, available across a robust and attractive network, delivered by a lean and efficient business these elements are the recipe for our future success.

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