Etihad plans big US expansion
Abu Dhabi, November 14, 2012
UAE national carrier Etihad Airways is keen to expand its network in the US, one of the highest performing regions across the airline’s global network, said its top official.
Etihad will be launching its third US route on March 31 next year with daily non-stop flights between Washington, D.C. and its home base of Abu Dhabi. The route will be operated by a three-class Airbus A340-500 aircraft, said Etihad president and CEO James Hogan who is in Washington, D.C. to meet prominent local diplomats, travel industry executives, media and corporate representatives.
Hogan hosted an cocktail party for a delegation of VIPs and will be delivering the keynote address at a US-UAE Business Council luncheon, where he will discuss the airline’s strategy for growth and the necessity of partnerships within the air travel industry.
On the airline's big expansion plans, Hogan said Etihad had flown nearly 1.5 million passengers to and from the US since commencing services to New York in 2006 and Chicago in 2009.
"The US specifically is among the highest performing regions across the airline’s global network, with an average 81 per cent load factor in 2012," he stated.
On existing routes – New York and Chicago – a significant portion of premium bookings are for travel to/from Abu Dhabi, with 72 per cent of First Class passengers and 53 per cent of Business Class passengers starting or ending their journey in Abu Dhabi, he added.
The UAE is the single largest export market for US goods in the Middle East and the US is the fifth largest trade partner worldwide for the UAE, representing a total trade volume of $18.3 billion in 2011.
Hogan said: “Particularly with increasing ties between the UAE and US, both government and private sector, we see a demand for premium services between the Washington, D.C. and Abu Dhabi. I am delighted to bring our award-winning Diamond First Class Suites and Pearl Business Class to the route," he remarked.
“As we build our operations at Washington, D.C., we are also keen to expand further in the US and are examining a number of other destinations, particularly on the West Coast," he noted.
“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," said Hogan.
Through its agreement with American Airlines, in place since September 2009, Etihad Airways will also codeshare on connecting flights between Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth, he stated.
Etihad currently has 41 codeshare partnerships with airlines around the globe, resulting in a combined network of 327 destinations, more than any other Middle Eastern airline, he added.-TradeArabia News Service