Etihad aims for 18 million passengers by 2025: Group CEO

Abu Dhabi airline hopes to return to pre-Covid numbers next year

By WAM

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Etihad Airways will introduce new destinations this year. — File photo
Etihad Airways will introduce new destinations this year. — File photo

Published: Mon 8 Jan 2024, 8:56 PM

Etihad Airways’ plans for expansion in 2024 includes broadening its network of destinations, offering more choices to travelers, and increasing flights to key international markets through its global network, a senior official said.

The aim is to usher in a new phase of sustainable growth, underpinned by a robust strategic plan, Antonoaldo Neves, group chief executive officer, said.

Neves said that Etihad Airways will introduce new destinations this year. These include Boston, which will become its fourth station in the United States, operating four weekly flights starting from March 31. Additionally, the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, will commence operations from May 1.

The airline has added two new destinations in the Indian subcontinent in early January: Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram in south India’s Kerala state. This brings the total number of stations served by Etihad Airways in India to 10. Also, there will be an increase in the number of flights to destinations such as Cairo, with 21 weekly flights, Colombo with seven, Islamabad with 14, and the Maldives with 14 flights.

Neves anticipates a rise in passenger numbers, expecting them to return by 2025 to the levels of 2017, around 18 million passengers, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2019, when they had reached 17 million passengers.

He stated that Etihad Airways is in a better financial position than in 2017, having witnessed a 30 per cent growth in the number of passengers last year compared to 2022. He pointed out that the company has laid out a long-term plan to reach 30 million passengers per year, equivalent to three times the number of passengers compared to 2022.

Neves added that the airline has solidified its global presence after 20 years since its establishment and successfully overcame all the challenges it faced. Presently, it is gearing up to achieve sustainable and profitable growth, thanks to strong support from stakeholders and a robust strategic plan for the future.

He highlighted that Etihad Airways’ 2030 strategy, backed by ADQ Holdings, marks a pivotal turning point in the carrier’s journey. It paves the way for a future characterised by sustainable growth, enhanced customer experiences, and a significant economic contribution to Abu Dhabi. Etihad’s network will expand to over 125 destinations as part of the 2030 plan, leveraging its strategic geographic location linking Asia and Europe, focusing on connecting short and medium-haul destinations in the GCC, India, and Asia with long-haul destinations in Europe and the east coast of America.

Antonoaldo Neves, group chief executive officer of Etihad Airways
Antonoaldo Neves, group chief executive officer of Etihad Airways

On the current fleet size, the CEO said: “In 2017, our fleet peaked at 110 aircraft, and we worked on reducing the fleet size between 2019 and 2022. Today, we are witnessing the return of our large aircraft such as the Airbus A380, Boeing 787, and Boeing 777, resulting in an increase in our fleet to 86 aircraft, and we expect it to reach a total of 160 aircraft by 2030.”

Neves added that Etihad’s fleet boasts diversity in aircraft types, including Boeing 787, Airbus A380, Boeing 777, and Airbus A350. He noted that the airline currently flies to over 70 destinations worldwide, having launched 12 new destinations last year, leverageing its distinctive geographic position connecting Asia and Europe.

Neves said: “In addition to launching new destinations, we are working on increasing frequencies to our daily destinations in North America, Europe, Asia, the Gulf region, and the Indian subcontinent. This is a significant step to provide more choices for travellers, offer increased comfort for passengers, and establish better connections within our growing global network.”

The CEO said that the new Terminal A at Abu Dhabi International Airport is a key cornerstone in the company’s growth strategy, with the capacity to accommodate up to 45 million passengers annually and directly connect Abu Dhabi to 117 international destinations. He highlighted that the terminal provides dedicated check-in facilities for economy class guests of Etihad, along with exclusive areas for business and first class travellers to indulge in a premium experience.

He pointed out that Etihad Airways plays a vital role in bolstering the destination network and supporting Abu Dhabi’s ambitions for economic growth. With the increased connectivity options, Abu Dhabi stands to benefit, enhancing its status as a prominent hub for business and tourism. Additionally, it serves as a gateway to the rest of the Emirates within the country and the GCC countries on the global stage.


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