Etihad to buy single-aisle aircraft

Etihad Airways will break away from its current fleet profile wide-body aircraft and acquire up to eight or nine single-aisle planes in 2008, its CEO said yesterday. “Next year we’ll start looking at introducing narrow bodies, either (Airbus) A320s or (Boeing) 737s,” chief executive James Hogan told Gulf News.

The expansion into narrow body planes will help the growing airline beef up its feeder service to bring GCC travellers into its Abu Dhabi hub. It will also allow it the flexibility to divert its higher-revenue earning wide-body aircraft on longer haul flights. “We plan to use narrow-bodies to improve frequency and give ourselves more opportunities to use the wide-bodies on the longer haul markets,” he said.

Hogan said Etihad was targeting a late-2008 arrival date for the order, which he will be in the “single-digits,” but added it was too early to specify the order size or whether the planes would be purchased or leased. “Wide bodies are great for the backs - the morning and evening flows from the hub. But during the day, it’s all about feeding the hub,” he said.

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