Routes 2012: Etihad Airways welcomes guests to Abu Dhabi
It seems not a week goes past without news from Etihad Airways at present.
Already this year the carrier has taken stakes in Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic and Air Seychelles as it continues to bolster its global presence.
Codeshare deals with RAK Airways, among others, have also contributed to record passenger numbers at the carrier.
A US$1 billion deal with Sabre also created headlines around the world.
But, with so much already accomplished this year, what is next for the carrier – already recognised as the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards?
Etihad signed a codeshare deal with RAK earlier this year
First up is the delivery of the Boeing Dreamliner.
Etihad Airways chief executive, James Hogan, recently visited Boeing’s Everett production facility, as the UAE flag-carrier prepares to take delivery of its first 787 Dreamliner.
Hogan led a senior delegation of Etihad Airways and airberlin executives on a one day visit.
Etihad Airways owns almost 30 per cent of airberlin, Europe’s sixth largest airline.
In March the two carriers announced plans to strengthen their partnership by integrating their respective Boeing 787 Dreamliner programs.
Together, Etihad Airways (41) and airberlin (15) have 56 Dreamliners on order.
Inspecting the Dreamliner assembly lines, Hogan said: “For both carriers the Dreamliner’s arrival will be a positive milestone for two strategically aligned partners, who are looking to successfully work with Boeing on our integrated fleet program.
“Already we are sharing infrastructure, streamlining our purchasing activity for engines, rotables, avionics and in-flight entertainment systems, and are also hard at work on common onboard product specifications for our respective brands which will give passengers a consistent product experience.”
Last December, Etihad Airways announced it was taking its total order book for the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to 41, the first of which arrives in the last quarter of 2014.
The order, valued at US $9.3 billion, will make Etihad Airways among the largest operators of the aircraft type in the world.
The UAE flag carrier has options and purchase rights for an additional 25 aircraft.
Hogan, left, is joined by Boeing 787 chief project engineer, Mike Sinnett, to tour the 787 Everett production facility
Sponsorship, particularly of sports, has also played a major role in the development of Etihad in 2012.
Earlier this year Etihad led the cheers of celebration for Manchester City as the club was crowned Barclays Premier League champions with victory over Queens Park Rangers at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.
It was the first time since 1968 that Manchester City had won the title in England’s top tier of football and the first time the club has lifted the Barclays Premier League trophy.
Hogan said: “We congratulate everyone at Manchester City for their fantastic achievement this season and securing the Premier League title.
“Etihad Airways is immensely proud to be a close partner and friend of Manchester City and look forward to celebrating this famous moment with the management, staff and players at the club.”
The Etihad Airways logo has been on the Manchester City shirt since 2009 and the Abu Dhabi-based airline became naming sponsor of the club’s Etihad Stadium and Campus in August 2011.
Ian Collins, left, chief executive of Melbourne Stadiums with Hogan, at the press conference to announce the signing of a new multi-million dollar agreement
More recently, the carrier signed a new multi-million dollar agreement to extend to 2019 its naming and marketing rights for Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, the city’s premier sports and entertainment venue.
Hogan said: “Placing the Etihad name on this world class sports and entertainment stadium, as well as activating our marketing and hospitality rights, has provided Etihad Airways with a solid platform to build our brand across the state of Victoria and the whole of Australia.
“The partnership with Melbourne Stadiums Limited gives Etihad Airways unparalleled exposure in Australia, one of the most important routes in our network, and we are delighted to extend the naming agreement for Etihad Stadium until 2019.”
Etihad Airways became the stadium’s naming rights sponsor on March 1st, 2009, the same month it commenced non-stop flights between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi.
By 2019, the Abu Dhabi-based airline will have sponsored the stadium continuously for ten years.
Etihad has been the main sponsor of Manchester City FC since 2009
But with so much happening on the ground, Etihad has also been strict in ensuring standards have not slipped in the skies.
Earlier this year, Etihad Airways’ first three-cabin Boeing 777-300ER aircraft departed on its maiden EY11 flight, from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow.
The new aircraft is configured with eight Diamond First Class Suites, 40 Pearl Business lie-flat beds, and 282 seats in Coral Economy.
The additional business class capacity will cater for the high demand of business travellers taking the early morning flight from Abu Dhabi to London.
Hogan, said: “Our guests on the Abu Dhabi-London route and elsewhere on our network of 87 destinations expect the very best product experience when flying with Etihad Airways, the world’s leading airline.
“The existing two-class Boeing 777-300ERs first introduced in 2006 have proven themselves to be a favourite with our guests, and as the airline has gradually expanded, it has always been our intention to go three-class with this magnificent machine.”
Etihad Airways’ first three-cabin Boeing 777-300ER aircraft departing on its maiden EY11 flight, from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow
More to Come
Make sure to check back at Breaking Travel News throughout the 18th World Route Development Forum for all the latest from Etihad and all the other major carriers taking part in the event.