Etihad Airways is keen to expand its network in the US, said President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, today.
Mr Hogan disclosed that the US specifically is among the highest performing regions across the airline’s global network, with an average 81 per cent load factor in 2012.
On existing routes – New York and Chicago – a significant portion of premium bookings are for travel to/from Abu Dhabi, with 72 percent of First Class passengers and 53 per cent of Business Class passengers starting or ending their journey in Abu Dhabi.
To date, Etihad Airways has flown nearly 1.5 million passengers to and from the US since commencing services to New York in 2006 and Chicago in 2009.
The airline will launch its third US route in on March 31, 2013, with daily non-stop flights between Washington, D.C. and its home base of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The route will be operated by a three-class Airbus A340-500 aircraft.
Mr Hogan is in Washington, D.C. to meet prominent local diplomats, travel industry executives, media and corporate representatives. He hosted an intimate cocktail party for a delegation of VIPs and will deliver the keynote address at a US-UAE Business Council luncheon, where he will discuss the airline’s strategy for growth and the necessity of partnerships within the air travel industry.
The UAE is the single largest export market for US goods in the Middle East and the US is the fifth largest trade partner worldwide for the UAE, representing a total trade volume of US $18.3 billion in 2011.
Mr Hogan said: “Particularly with increasing ties between the UAE and US, both government and private sector, we see a demand for premium services between the Washington, D.C. and Abu Dhabi. I am delighted to bring our award-winning Diamond First Class Suites and Pearl Business Class to the route.
“As we build our operations at Washington, D.C., we are also keen to expand further in the US and are examining a number of other destinations, particularly on the West Coast.
“The point-to-point market will be supplemented by strong traffic flows over Abu Dhabi onwards to destinations across Asia, particularly the Indian Subcontinent. With the addition of services to Ahmedabad this month, we now serve nine destinations across India.
“Building complementary networks to support business and passenger flows across the globe is a key part of Etihad Airways’ hub strategy – the growing number of connections between the US and India is a perfect example of this.”
Through its agreement with American Airlines, in place since September 2009, Etihad Airways will also codeshare on connecting flights between Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth.
Etihad Airways currently has 41 codeshare partnerships with airlines around the globe, resulting in a combined network of 327 destinations, more than any other Middle Eastern airline.