2006 will be an impressive year for Etihad, says an airline spokesman.
The company started operations in November 2003, and quickly established its ambition to become the world’s most luxurious and innovative airline.
In just over two years, it has made history by placing an order worth $8 billion for new aircraft, says the spokesman. This included 24 Airbus aircraft – four A340-500s, four A340-600s, 12 A330-200s and probably most exciting of all, four double-decker A380s.
Etihad has also ordered five purpose-built and -designed Boeing 777-300ERs. By 2008, the airline hopes to have 40 aircraft in its fleet, according to a recent news report. With 20 destinations launched in these two years, including Toronto and Johannesburg, the twice-awarded world’s fastest growing airline is set to increase its destinations by another 50 per cent in 2006.
On the flight plan for this year are Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore in Pakistan as well as Jeddah and Manila from February. Flights to New York will start this summer, while Dhaka, Manchester and Jakarta will follow.
The overall aim is to increase that figure to 70 destinations by 2010.
Bringing in the customers
Not only is Etihad’s route network expanding quickly, but it is also raising standards in hospitality and flight comfort, says the spokesman. This is why the airline refers to passengers as guests, he says, and instead of having traditional aircraft classes, there are Diamond, Pearl and Coral Zones, each offering a premium service.
The new fleet of aircraft have been designed to deliver new levels of service for every guest. For business travellers there will be high- speed wire-less internet access, and for those who want to relax, each seat will have a personal 15-inch high resolution screen with an audio visual on demand in-flight entertainment system.
Etihad’s in-flight cuisine has also been designed to transform airline dinning, with new fusion menus created especially for the airline.
Has Etihad benefited from Abu Dhabi’s pulling out of Gulf Air?
Etihad Airways is an independent airline, and the government’s decision to pull out of Gulf Air was a move they decided upon themselves. Needless to say however, this has opened significant opportunities for Etihad, which can now predict an even faster growth, says the spokesman.
Along with the increase in routes and aircraft fleet, this growth will also continue to build Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a major global tourist and business destination.