Etihad's Record Growth Boosts Abu Dhabi's Status as Aviation Gateway

Travel News Asia Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Huge growth during the past year by Etihad Airways is helping to cement Abu Dhabis status as one of the fastest developing aviation gateways in the world, and the UAE national airline is heading for more major expansion this year.

Etihads passenger numbers shot up by 150% from 1.2 million in 2005 to around three million last year while its cargo division achieved even greater levels of growth with 100,000 tonnes transported in 2006, compared with 20,000 in 2004.

Etihad opened up 16 new passenger routes last year and has recently announced the opening of its new route to Australia. Since making its inaugural flight in November 2003 it has launched a new passenger route every month and now travels to 38 destinations around the world.

The rapid development of Etihad, one of the fastest growing airlines in aviation history, is a vital element of Abu Dhabis plan to establish the UAE capital as a world-class aviation hub, a process that will be boosted by the Aviation Procurement Expo (APEX), a major new event bringing together airline officials and aviation suppliers from around the world in March.

The plans also include a US$6.8 billion expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport, expected to be the catalyst for a significant increase in the number of airlines serving the emirate. Abu Dhabi is also looking to reinforce its position as a major aircraft maintenance and repair hub.

Against the background of the emirates ambitious development, Etihad has announced targets for further growth in 2007, including increasing passenger numbers to four million and doubling cargo levels to 200,000 tonnes. The airline is also scheduled to receive 10 aircraft into its fleet this year, which is part of an initial order placed in 2004 for 29 new aircraft worth US$8 billion.

Organised by Streamline Marketing Group and taking place from 19 21 March at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, APEX will play a key part in helping Etihad to sustain this expansion. The event has been commissioned by the Abu Dhabi Government to support the development of the airline and also the emirates two other principle aviation companies, the Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), which is responsible for operating Abu Dhabis airports and expanding its aviation infrastructure, and the Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Company (GAMCO), which was established by the government in 1987.

The exhibition will allow managers and procurement specialists from the three organisations to view, test and procure new products, services and technologies right on their doorstep, while a major aviation procurement conference will enable them to network with procurement and commercial officials from airlines and aviation companies from around the region.

Geert W. Boven, executive vice president of sales and services for Etihad Airways said, Etihad has seen unparalleled growth over the past 12 months with the momentum set to increase even further during 2007. This rapid expansion makes it absolutely vital for us to have ready access to top suppliers of airline equipment and services from around the world. APEX is therefore a highly valuable event as it will bring international suppliers directly to us and help to forge productive relationships, which will in turn support our growth.

The Aviation Procurement and Finance Conference, running over the three days of the event, focuses on procurement issues facing modern airlines and features speakers from major airlines around the world. Topics to be covered will include financing options for fleet expansion, Islamic financing of aircraft, strategic sourcing in the aviation sector and fuel procurement.

Delegates can also take part in a final-day workshop run by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Chain Management UK, which looks at effective risk management and negotiation strategies in purchasing.

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