Etihad Airways president James Hogan emphasised the importance of consumer choice and innovation as the fundamental drivers of competition in the international airline industry.
The comments came during a public conversation before an audience of approximately 4,000 attendees at the 2015 Global Business Travel Association Convention in Orlando.
In a discussion, which focused on emerging opportunities and challenges in the global aviation industry, Hogan noted that business and leisure travellers alike are demanding, and should rightly expect, choices in network, schedules, product and services, loyalty rewards, convenience, and price.
“What we bring to the market is competition, we bring fantastic choice in regard to product and services,” Hogan told the audience.
“We see strong demand in premium and we’re very focused on the business traveller – when you look at our lounges, when you look at the services that we provide – to ensure that the trip is as seamless as it can be.”
Hogan highlighted the impact of rapidly growing markets like China, India and Southeast Asia on international traffic flows and traditional international hubs.
He also emphasized Etihad’s unique approach to constantly innovating in order to better serve customers.
“Innovation – one of the greatest things about travel in this era is the consumer can find out so much about your business.
“In our culture, we don’t have passengers, we have guests and that guest experience – whether it’s first class, business class or economy – is fundamental, and treating the guest with respect,” Hogan said.
Hogan also discussed Etihad’s unique business model which extends the airline’s organic growth through codeshare partnerships and equity investments in key global airlines, including airberlin.
The airline’s hub in Abu Dhabi now serves as a gateway between the Middle East, Asia and Australia and destinations in Europe and America.
Hogan said: “Our equity strategy is about how we build our network.
“We work in a digital age where the consumer, whether it’s corporate or leisure, can go online and they look to points of the world they wish to travel.
“Now within that, we have a partnership with these airlines where we’re now strengthening our global network – top line generating revenue and bottom line tackling cost together.”