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Etihad Q1 passenger numbers up 11pc

Abu Dhabi, April 14, 2010

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, said its passenger numbers for the first quarter of 2010 increased by 11 per cent, while premium traffic grew by five per cent against the first quarter of 2009.

The airline also reported 25.4 per cent growth in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) in the Q1 2010, out-pacing the industry average and running ahead of the airline’s available seat kilometres (ASKs) growth of 22 per cent.

The improvement was matched by an increase in seat factors, from 73 per cent to 75 per cent over Q1 of 2009.

“These are encouraging figures,” said James Hogan, Etihad Airways chief executive officer.

“Despite operating in the worst air transport recession in history, Etihad has continued its growth trajectory. Our investment in our product and in our brand has helped us to attract higher numbers of passengers in both economy and premium cabins,” he added.

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

• 87 per cent seat factors in economy on the new Chicago route;
• Asia-Pacific and Australian routes all operating at seat factors of more than 80 per cent 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.

Etihad’s first quarter figures build on its 2009 performance, which saw RPKs increase by 15 per cent and total passenger numbers rise from six 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,” Hogan continued.

“The worst global recession in living memory, coupled with the H1N1 pandemic, led to a huge drop in demand for air travel. Airlines around the world have seen passenger numbers drop and yields have fallen significantly.”

“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.

“Most importantly, we saw seat factor and yields recover over the latter part of the year, particularly in the premium cabins, where we have invested in creating a world-beating product.”

Seat factor through 2009 was 74 per cent, holding steady on the 2008 level, he said.

Hogan also highlighted the success of the airline’s cost reduction plan that commenced in 2007.

“We reduced our costs per available seat kilometre (CASK) by more than 14 per cent during the year, a sizeable reduction,” he said.

“We are seeing the results of the implementation of our business strategy over the last three years coming to fruition. Our 2010 performance is already showing positive results, with all major indicators showing strong improvements on January and February of last year.”

“The market environment remains very challenging and it will require clear focus if we are to continue on our growth path in 2010,” Hogan concluded. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: abu dhabi | Etihad | Passenger numbers | Q1 2010 | RPK | ASK |

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