Etihad Targets 7m Passengers

ABU DHABI - Etihad Airways sets a $3 billion revenue target and aims to fly seven million passengers this year, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

By T. Ramavarman

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Published: Fri 20 Mar 2009, 12:11 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 10:42 PM

The airline will expand its global flight network to 55 destinations during the year and increase its fleet to more than 50 aircraft, James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive told a Press conference here on Wednesday.

He said the airline hopes to achieve an average seat load factor of 77 per cent this year — a moderate increase of two per cent from 75 per cent achieved last year.

“We are bullish about our prospects this year even though the market is very tough. We will be monitoring the market every week, month and quarter, and will evolve appropriate strategies to meet out targets,” said.

The airline, which is now into the sixth-year of service, now operates in 50 routes across the world with a fleet of 42 aircraft. Eleven new passenger aircraft are set to join Etihad’s fleet this year and this will enable the airline launch new services to Melbourne, Istanbul, Athens, Larnaca and Chicago, as well as increase frequencies on many of the existing routes, James Hogan said. The additional aircraft will increase Etihad’s seat capacity by 18 per cent and cargo capacity by 12 per cent to 3.5 million tonnes, he disclosed. A total of 900 weekly Etihad flights will operate this summer -- a 20 per cent rise on the 750 weekly flights, which operated during the same season in 2008. The new additions to the Etihad fleet will include two Airbus 330-200s, one A330-300, two A340-600s, five A320-200s and one Boeing 777-300 ER. The airline has already made the necessary pre-deal payments for the new aircraft and does not face any liquidity crunch. “We are not planning to issue any bonds as our liquidity position is very good,” he said. On the impact of the global financial downturn on the airline, he said the airline industry was not immune to the crisis. “But the performance of Etihad in the first quarter of the current year outsmarted our expectations. We had a seat factor of 74 per cent in the first quarter, despite the fact that this is low travel season every year.”

The business class sector of the airline was performing extremely well even in the current period of financial turmoil, and the set back is on the economy class, he said.

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