Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, celebrated its seventh anniversary on November 5, 2010.
In seven years of rapid growth, Etihad has flown over 26 million passengers on more than 180,000 flights to destinations across the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America, and Asia. Over the same period the airline’s fleet has grown to 57 aircraft in 2010.
James Hogan, chief executive officer of Etihad Airways said, “We have witnessed tremendous growth over the past seven years in our route network, aircraft fleet, passenger figures and number of employees.
“Industry and customer endorsement is evidence of Etihad’s significant achievements over this period and is testimony to the enormous commitment of our staff in delivering the very best travel experience in the aviation industry.”
Emerging from the global recession, 2010 has seen the return of passenger travel. To date this year, Etihad has carried over 6 million passengers and is expected to carry more than 7.3 million passengers by the end of the 2010, compared to 6.3 million in 2009. The load factor has also increased significantly from 74 percent in 2009, and is expected to average 77 percent for 2010.
Five new routes were added to the airline’s global network during 2010 – Colombo, Nagoya, Tokyo, Erbil, and Seoul – while access to many key destinations on Etihad’s global network was improved following a 12 percent increase in the number of weekly flights from 928 in 2009 to more than a thousand in 2010.
To serve network growth, fleet expansion continued in 2010 with the addition of three new aircraft including one A330-300 aircraft and two A330-200F freighter aircraft. A further A330-300 aircraft will come into service by November 13, bringing the fleet complement, including six freighters, to 57 by year end.
Growth in the sky was matched by continued expansion on the ground where staff numbers increased to more than 8000, including around 2800 cabin crew and over 900 pilots. Etihad currently has more than 60 ‘new-joiners’ each month, drawn from more than 120 different nationalities.
Emiratisation remains a priority for the airline and recruitment of top talent from across the UAE continues. UAE nationals now comprise 12 percent of the total workforce, up from eight percent in 2009.
Etihad’s cargo division, Crystal Cargo, continued to expand rapidly during 2010. Cargo shipments and tonnage increased year on year by 19 and 20 percent respectively. The dedicated freighter fleet increased to six after two Airbus A330-200F were taken into service this year, and scheduled cargo services were launched to Hong Kong, Beijing, Erbil and N’djamena, Narita and Nagoya.
Etihad Airways won a range awards to add to its growing trophy cabinet, including ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Seat’ and ‘World’s Best First Class Onboard Catering’ in the annual Skytrax survey, as judged by over 18 million air travelers worldwide. The airline was also recognized at the World Travel Awards Middle East with over six awards received including ‘World’s Leading Airline’.
James Hogan said, “It has been a tremendously exciting and productive year for Etihad Airways and we are looking forward to our eighth year of commercial operation, remaining firmly dedicated to our target of breaking even in 2011.”