September 17, 2008

Etihad CEO Speaks of “New Wave” in Global Aviation

Etihad Airways, and the other carriers of the Arabian Gulf, are creating a "new wave" in global aviation said James Hogan, Etihad's chief executive, in a speech to the Wings Club in New York City today.

Mr Hogan said: "The 'magic three' factors of location, investment and vision have combined to create an opportunity never seen before in the industry. In less than 10 years Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai have gone from serious players in regional aviation to major players on the global stage."

Using the example of Etihad Airways to illustrate his point, Mr Hogan said: "Abu Dhabi's location offers an ideal position from which to set off to the rest of the world, placed perfectly between East and West. Indeed, if you were going to launch a new global airline, there are few better places you could choose.

"Another important catalyst is the investment we have made in new equipment and particularly in the latest aircraft technology. The new breed of long haul and ultra long haul aircraft make non-stop travel from our region to all four corners of the world a comfortable and convenient reality.

"Because we are new carriers, we are able to invest in modern, efficient and environmentally-friendly aircraft, with none of the legacy issues affecting the more established industry players today.

"And finally, we have vision: the vision of Abu Dhabi's leadership not just in creating a travel hub but in developing a focal point for the wider aviation industry, all part of the on-going effort to diversify our economy in the future."

Mr Hogan also pointed out that the 'open skies' philosophy of the UAE, reflected in progressive deregulation and liberalization, is opening up further opportunities for traffic growth. However, he warned observers not to confuse start-up capital investment with un-commercial operating activities.

He said: "Let me explode a few urban myths. We do not receive government subsidies or guarantees and neither do we benefit from free or discounted airport and fuel costs. We hedge fuel. We borrow money from financial markets. There are no free kicks.

"Our shareholders, the investors of this region, demand accountability, a return on investment and a well run business. And we have a real and genuine commercial mandate - a mandate that will see us break even over the coming years despite the heavy investment in new aircraft and on new routes."

About Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates based in the UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi. Etihad currently serves 48 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia and North America (New York and Toronto).