WTTC Summit 2011 - Etihad retains independent streak

WTTC Summit 2011 - Etihad retains independent streak

Etihad Airways, voted “World’s Leading Airline” at 2010 World Travel Awards, has said it has no plans to join any airline alliances.

The rapidly-growing Abu Dhabi based carrier confirmed its bilateral partnerships with other airlines means it can remain competitive without joining an alliance.

Speaking at the Guild of Travel Management Companies’ (GTMC) overseas conference in Abu Dhabi, Chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, Peter Baumgartner said: “Etihad now has around 30 bilateral partnerships with other airlines, that has helped us feed our flows from secondary markets in the USA, Australia and emerging European markets.”

“This gives us reach beyond our network and means we are able to compete without requiring membership of one of the three major alliances.”

In February the carrier, which also was voted “Middle East’s Leading Airline” at World Travel Awards 2011 Middle East Ceremony, inked a partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Australia for a codeshare on 27 flights per week between Sydney and Abu Dhabi.

The partnership includes joint scheduling and pricing, and shared ground handling, with members of the airlines’ frequent flyer programmes able to collect and use points on both airlines.

Etihad is an airline on the ascendancy. It currently has 57 aircraft flying to 67 destinations, and by 2010 plans on having 150 aircraft flying to some 120 destinations. This will include nearly tripling its fleet and doubling the number of routes from Abu Dhabi within the next nine years.

The key to these expansion plans is in Abu Dhabi as a world hub serving a wide number of destinations, said Baumgartner.

“The Gulf is home to three growing international airlines, of which Etihad today is the smallest. Dubai, Qatar and Abu Dhabi have placed tourism aviation at the heart of their overall strategy.”

Meanwhile senior managers from Etihad Airways are gathered in Las Vegas for the 9th WTTC Global Travel & Tourism Summit, 17-19 May 2011, which is taking place at the Aria Resort & Casino.

Etihad is also on a high after the weekend’s FA Cup victory, which saw Manchester City break its 35-year trophy drought with a 1-0 victory over Stoke.

To mark the occasion club sponsors Etihad and the Abu Dhabi tourist board are bringing stewardesses, Arabic food and even a Formula One car to Eastlands.

To find out more about the WTTC Summit visit http://www.globaltraveltourism.com