Etihad Airways is entering a new period of what it describes as ‘sustainable’ growth as the Abu Dhabi-based carrier adds a slew of new routes, increases frequencies to existing destinations and ramps up capacity in a bid to improve its home city’s economic ambitions.
The once-beleaguered carrier reported a staggering loss of $1.7 billion in 2020, forcing it into a period of decline, but on Wednesday, CEO Antonoaldo Neves said the carrier was entering its “next chapter targeting growth.”
“Our ambitious network and improved connectivity allows us to better serve Abu Dhabi and our valued guests, forming the basis of our future expansion while providing flexibility and freedom to adapt to new opportunities and markets,” Neves commented as the strategy was formally unveiled.
“By offering more travel options and seamless connections, we aim to attract an increasing number of visitors to Abu Dhabi, propelling economic growth for the city while enriching the travel experience for our passengers.”
The majority of Etihad’s passengers currently transit through its Abu Dhabi hub without ever stepping foot outside the airport, but the airline is now offering a free stopover program in an attempt to reinvigorate the emirates tourism industry.
This winter, Etihad will adapt its schedules for a slew of its most important markets so that flights depart Abu Dhabi at 2 pm – allowing customers to enjoy Abu Dhabi before their hotel checkout time.
That’s quite a change from the 2 am departures that Abu Dhabi International Airport is infamous for. Etihad hopes its improved flight schedules to a host of European and Asian destinations will win over passengers who place value in more convenient flight departure times.
While the last few years saw Etihad exit a number of destinations, this year alone, the carrier has announced nine new destinations, including Malaga, Mykonos, Lisbon, Kolkata, St Petersburg, Dusseldorf, Copenhagen, and Osaka.
Last week, Etihad also revealed it would be adding Boston to its North America route map early next year.
Former chief executive Tony Douglas is credited with managing to completely turn around Etihad’s loss-making record despite the massive challenges of the pandemic.
Douglas axed loss-making routes, grounded inefficient aircraft and cut costs across the business, helping the carrier to a core operating profit of $296 million in the first six months of 2022. It was the first time since 2015 that Etihad had reported a profit.
Late last year, Douglas announced he was leaving Etihad to help start Riyadh Air in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. At the same time, Abu Dhabi’s government-controlled sovereign wealth fund announced it was taking control of Etihad and putting Neves in the driving seat to rebuild the airline.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.