Etihad Airways has already carried over a million passengers in the first three months of 2007, a staggering increase of 176 percent over the same period last year. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier is going from strength-to-strength after recently winning two accolades at the Pan Arab Web Awards for its website—one for “Best Online Strategy” and the other for “Best International Standards.”
Ten additional aircrafts will join its ranks in 2007, bringing its fleet size to 31 by the end of the year, while new services will be rolled out to Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram in India, as well as Dublin, and Milan.
Breaking Travel News spoke to Geert Boven, Executive Vice President, Sales on the airline’s expanding network:
BTN: What can we expect from Etihad in terms of route enhancements?
Boven: Basically our new schedule for summer 2007 is all about connectivity and therefore you need an increase in frequencies to the major cities in the world. We are having a total capacity increase of 18 percent this summer. We are looking at double daily frequency to London Heathrow. We are looking at double dailies to Paris and in the end we hope to get double daily frequencies to Frankfurt, which we hope to get by the end of this year and the start of the winter schedule.
BTN: What do these increases do for you in those markets?
Boven: It is very important to have the frequencies because then people can explore our product and services and you can establish a very good position in the local market. Particularly in Germany we are looking forward to having our brand new aircraft on these routes.
BTN: Tell me about your fleet expansion?
We have a very young fleet. The average age of our planes is 2.1 years so that is very young. It is also a very young fleet in terms of engines. We are getting another ten aircraft this year—all Airbus aircraft—four 240-660s, the other six are 330’s.
BTN: What can we see in the future from Etihad?
We have a very well-regarded and recent entertainment programme. We have superb service on-board in terms of Dining-on-Demand in the first class cabin. And also we have introduced another new first, a loyalty, frequent-flyer programme, Etihad Guest. This has been very well received so far. It is unique because you are able to buy seats, with no black out periods which is very important—if there is a seat on the 23rd December and you want to go home, you can go home with us.
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