Etihad targets 25m passengers by 2020

Etihad Boeing 787-900

Etihad Airways has set its sights on flying 25 million passengers a year by 2020 and doubling the number of cities served from 50 to 100.

In addition to the flight network growth, which supports the order of 100 Airbus and Boeing aircraft that was made at the Farnborough International Airshow 2008, Etihad’s workforce could also grow to 27,000 people by 2020, from its current 6,600, with most of the jobs based in Abu Dhabi.

“Etihad is already a substantial business and we signalled our intentions for the future by making recently one of the largest ever commercial aircraft orders. Our projections for 2020 reflect that order and the scale of our ambitions, closely aligned to the growth of Abu Dhabi as an economic and tourism powerhouse,” said the Abu Dhabi based airline’s chief executive James Hogan.

Etihad recently released figures which showed that the carrier enjoyed its busiest summer period in its four year history with a total of more than 1.6 million passengers flying during June, July and August.

The record performance during the summer months was underlined further on August 1 when 20,721 passengers flew with Etihad making it the airline’s busiest day. Etihad’s flights to Asia services turned in a particularly strong performance during the summer with seat factors averaging 81 per cent. Passenger loads in the business cabin averaged 83 per cent for the Kuala Lumpur service and 79 per cent for the Bangkok route.

Within Europe, London Heathrow exceeded loads of 91 per cent and Munich 88 per cent. Flights to Brussels, Dublin, Manchester and Paris all achieved average seat factors of more than 80 per cent in the economy cabin.

Routes in the Middle East performed well also during the summer including Cairo and Damascus, achieving overall average seat factors of 80 per cent.

The summer also saw Etihad flights operate at an average of 83 per cent full, an increase of 46 per cent over the same period in 2007.

Etihad has now flown more than four million passengers across its network of 48 destinations in 2008 and is on track to achieve its target of carrying six million passengers by the end of the year, said an official.