07 Aug 2013 09:00
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, today outlined a range of major changes to its Australian operations, including new aircraft, new routes, additional flights and new airport facilities.
Speaking in Sydney at the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit, the President
and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, said Australia was
a key and long-term market for the airline and one for which there were
exciting growth plans.
Mr Hogan said the airline’s future steps for Australia included:
- Airbus A380 aircraft
from Sydney and Melbourne to Abu Dhabi
- Construction of premium
lounges at Sydney and Melbourne Airports from 2014
- Additional flights from
Melbourne and Brisbane to Abu Dhabi
- Commencement of nonstop
flights between Perth and Abu Dhabi
He also reaffirmed that Etihad Airways was already moving to increase
its equity in Virgin Australia, following recent approval by the Foreign
Investment Review Board to increase from a 10 per cent shareholding to 19.9 per
“Virgin Australia is a key member of our ever-expanding airline equity
alliance, and Etihad Airways is an active and long-term investor in Virgin,” Mr
Hogan said. “We have a significant presence in Australia, with 28 weekly
departures, annual expenditure of over $100 million, direct employment of 106
staff and engagement of 415 local contractors,” he said.
“The Virgin Australia partnership enables us to connect with 45
destinations in Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia, while we
reciprocate by providing connections via our Abu Dhabi hub to a wide range of
destinations in Europe, UK, Ireland and Africa.”
Mr Hogan also highlighted the contribution of codeshare partners such as
Air France, KLM, Alitalia and Air Serbia to strengthening Etihad Airways’
position between Australia and Europe.
“Together with our partners, we have a continuous wave of flights coming
down from Europe over our global hub in Abu Dhabi with connections to a
significant network of destinations,” he said.
Mr Hogan said the Etihad Airways equity alliance – an alternative to
legacy airline alliances – now had five members, following a deal last week to
invest in Serbia’s national airline.
Etihad Airways also is awaiting regulatory approval for investment in a
sixth airline, India’s Jet Airways, which gives the equity alliance a combined
total of more than 420 destinations, 500 aircraft and more than 96 million
passengers each year.
in Sydney, Mr Hogan will also host a VIP event at Sydney Opera House to
celebrate Etihad Airways’ 10th
anniversary and its sixth year of
flying to Australia. The airline is a major partner of Sydney Opera House
having signed a three-year agreement with the iconic World Heritage-listed
performing arts centre in January this year.