Etihad Airways is keen to expand its network in the USA, particularly the West Coast, James Hogan President and Chief Executive, told a delegation of VIPs in Washington DC last night. He disclosed that the USA is among the highest performing regions across the airline’s global network, with an average 81% load factor in 2012. He later gave a keynote speech in which he said: “Our equity stakes are not about seeking control; they are about cementing partnership – partnership that will deliver growth in a constrained and challenged global landscape.”
On existing routes, New York and Chicago, a significant portion of premium bookings are for travel to/from Abu Dhabi, with 72& of First Class passengers and 53% of Business Class passengers starting or ending their journey in Abu Dhabi.
To date, Etihad Airways has flown nearly 1.5 million passengers to and from the USA since commencing services to New York in 2006 and Chicago in 2009.
The airline will launch its third US route on 31st March 2013 with daily non-stop flights between Washington DC and Abu Dhabi operated by a three-class A340-500 aircraft.
James Hogan was in Washington DC to meet prominent local diplomats, travel industry executives, media and corporate representatives and delivered the keynote address at a US-UAE Business Council luncheon, where he discussed the airline’s strategy for growth and the necessity of partnerships within the air travel industry.
He told the VIPs: “Particularly with increasing ties between the UAE and US, both government and private sector, we see a demand for premium services between Washington DC and Abu Dhabi. I am delighted to bring our award-winning Diamond First Class Suites and Pearl Business Class to the route. “As we build our operations at Washington DC, we are also keen to expand further in the USA and are examining a number of other destinations, particularly on the West Coast.
“The point-to-point market will be supplemented by strong traffic flows over Abu Dhabi onwards to destinations across Asia, particularly the Indian subcontinent. With the addition of services to Ahmedabad this month, we now serve nine destinations across India.
“Building complementary networks to support business and passenger flows across the globe is a key part of Etihad Airways’ hub strategy – the growing number of connections between the USA and India is a perfect example of this.”
Through its agreement with American Airlines, in place since September 2009, Etihad Airways will also codeshare on connecting flights between Washington DC and Los Angeles and Dallas – Fort Worth.
Etihad Airways currently has 41 codeshare partnerships with airlines around the world, resulting in a combined network of 327 destinations, more than any other Middle Eastern airline.
US-UAE Business Council Address
In his keynote speech at the US-UAE Business Council luncheon in Washington DC, entitled ‘A new way of doing things: Together’, James Hogan discussed the airline’s strategy for growth and the necessity of partnerships within the air travel industry.
Speaking on Etihad Airways’ services to the USA, he said: “Our partnership here goes beyond our flight operations, with many of our company’s most important strategic partners being American companies. We currently operate 14 Boeing aircraft but have another 51 on order, including 41 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. With our equity partners, we will be operating the largest fleet of Dreamliners anywhere in the world.”
Codeshare agreements, such as the one Etihad Airways has held with American Airlines since 2009, have seen the airline’s network expand rapidly in recent years. “From very early on, we recognised we needed to work with other airlines if we were to achieve scale and build our competitive position.
“Today, we have codeshares in place with 41 partners, expanding our network of destinations to 327 major cities – more than any other Middle Eastern airline. In building those partnerships, we have taken a deliberately wide-ranging approach, working with airlines from all markets and – perhaps most importantly – from across all of the major alliances.
“Those codeshares have played an important role in the growth of our business, feeding passengers into our global network and delivering a constant and growing revenue stream for the business.”
He detailed how this approach was taken further to include equity stakes in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus.
“Our equity stakes are not about seeking control; they are about cementing partnership – partnership that will deliver growth in a constrained and challenged global landscape. They are about us putting skin in the game, betting on the success of our commercial relationships. This year, those partnerships will deliver something in the region of 20% of our total revenues.
“So, in our new model, we have taken what we believe is the smart approach to work around the limitations of the global aviation sector.”