Etihad Airways marks a major milestone in its short but glittering history when it celebrates its fifth anniversary today.
On 5 November 2003 the national airline of the UAE launched its inaugural flight from its home base of Abu Dhabi to Al Ain which was followed a week later with its first commercial passenger flight to Beirut.In five years, Etihad has flown nearly 14 million passengers on more than 87,000 flights to 48 destinations across the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. The airline’s fleet has grown to 39 aircraft and will reach 42 aircraft by the end of the year.
The airline has a raft of new launches in the pipeline, including a new route to Melbourne in March 2009. To celebrate the forthcoming launch, Etihad is enlisting X Factor judge Dannii Minogue to join its team at World Travel Market.
The Melbourne star, currently mentoring the over 25s in the hit ITV show, will be available for autographs and photos at the airline’s stand (ME1600) between 11am and 1pm on Tuesday 11 November.
The airline is also launching non-stop flights from its Abu Dhabi base to Almaty in Kazakhstan on December 2 and the Russian capital, Moscow, on December 1, and Lagos in Nigeria next March.
This year, Etihad has launched four new destinations, starting flights to Beijing, the Indian cities of Kozikhode (Calicut) and Chennai (Madras) as well as Minsk, the capital city of Belarus.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said: “Etihad has achieved significant growth since it took to the skies five years ago and it continues to maintain its position as the world’s fastest-growing airline.
“Since our inaugural flight, we have flown 14 million business and leisure travellers and built up a global network of 48 destinations, supported by one of the youngest and most environmentally-efficient aircraft fleets in the world. This is a staggering achievement and one which our airline is very proud.”
Highlights of Etihad’s history include:
* The largest ever commercial aviation start-up aircraft order, announced in 2004 for 29 Airbus and Boeing aircraft
* 14 million passengers carried on a total of 87,000 flights
* An aircraft fleet of 39 aircraft with an average age of just three years
* A record-breaking order in July 20008 for up to 205 aircraft at the Farnborough International Airshow, including firm orders for 100 aircraft
* Sponsorship of the Ferrari Formula 1 team, Chelsea Football Club, Harlequins Rugby Football Club and the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from 2009
* Winner of Middle East’s Leading Airlines at World Travel Awards 2008