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Etihad to breakeven this year says CEO

Sydney, August 11, 2011

Etihad Airways has seen no softening in passenger numbers since Europe's debt crisis and US economic problems hit global markets and expects to break even this year, its chief executive officer said.

James Hogan also said he was keen to invest in other airlines but would be wary about doing any deals without being able to take management control.

Hogan said Etihad still expected to break even in 2011 and said he had seen no evidence fewer people were flying in recent weeks as fears about another global economic downturn sparked a share market rout.

"We have not seen a slowdown," Hogan told Reuters. "Our European traffic is strong  ... our traffic out of markets like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia coming up the Gulf is very strong as is our North American business."

Hogan said the airline was often approached by airlines looking for an investor but said he would only be interested if Etihad could take management control.

He declined to comment on reports earlier this year Etihad had expressed interest in buying Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic.

Hogan was in Sydney to deliver the inaugural Australia-Gulf Lecture at the Lowy Institute for International Policy.

In his speech entitled “The shifting geopolitics of aviation” Hogan reflected on the major economic and societal changes in Asia and the Middle East and their impact on global aviation.

“The Arabian Gulf is a consequential player in this new Asian paradigm. It now finds itself at a geographic crossroads, between the Old World and the New. Its oil is literally fuelling the urbanisation of regional China and the South Asian subcontinent,” he said.

“Abu Dhabi has been purposeful in its plans to evade the Resource Curse. It has a clearly defined framework for economic diversification away from hydrocarbons and into metals, tourism, renewable energy, financial services and transport and logistics. This is its vision for 2030.”

“And aviation is the absolute lifeblood of the UAE’s future economic prospects. Because of this, the Emirates and their airlines are deadly serious about success in this sector,” Hogan said.

“Australia, like Abu Dhabi, is blessed with natural resources that are essential for the growth and urbanisation of emerging markets,” he said. “And because of the UAE’s rise as a global transport hub, it is a valuable partner in the globalisation of the Australian economy.”

Hogan said that Etihad’s future network hub strategy would be built around the opportunities in provincial China, regional India and other under-served growth areas.

“The airlines – indeed businesses – that will survive and prosper in the face of seismic global change are those which reinvent themselves with this change in mind,” he added. – Reuters and TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Etihad | Australia | Sydney | Passenger numbers | Breakeven | Lowly institute |

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