Etihad celebrates five years of flying

Published November 4th, 2008 - 06:25 GMT

Etihad celebrates five years of flying 

Etihad Airways marks a major milestone in its rapid growth story on Wednesday, November 5 when it celebrates its fifth anniversary.


On the same day in 2003 the national airline of the United Arab Emirates launched its inaugural flight from its home base of Abu Dhabi to Al Ain which was followed a week later with Etihad’s first commercial passenger flight to Beirut.


Etihad in five years has flown nearly 14 million passengers on more than 87,000 flights to 48 destinations across the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.  The airline’s fleet has grown to 39 aircraft and will reach 42 aircraft by the end of the year.


James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said: “Etihad has achieved significant growth since it took to the skies five years ago and it continues to maintain its position as the world’s fastest-growing airline.


“Since our inaugural flight, we have flown 14 million business and leisure travellers and built up a global network of 48 destinations, supported by one of the youngest and most environmentally efficient aircraft fleets in the world. This is a staggering achievement and one which our airline is very proud.”


Major achievements during Etihad’s first five years include:


The largest ever commercial aviation start-up aircraft order, announced in 2004 for 29 Airbus and Boeing aircraft
14 million passengers carried on a total of 87,000 flights
An aircraft fleet of 39 aircraft with an average age of just three years
A record-breaking order in July 20008 for up to 205 aircraft at the Farnborough International Airshow, including firm orders for 100 aircraft
Sponsorship of the Ferrari Formula 1 team, Chelsea Football Club, Harlequins Rugby Football Club and the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from 2009
More than 40 global awards for service and innovation

The airline’s incredible growth story shows little signs of slowing. Etihad announced recently that it has set its sights on flying 25 million passengers a year and more than doubling the number of cities served to 100 by 2020. To support this continued growth, Etihad’s workforce is expected to grow to 27,000 people by 2020 from its current figure of 6,700.


Mr Hogan added: “I have every confidence that our growth story will continue to make the history books. The Etihad story is well and truly underway. Like Abu Dhabi, there is much still to come and a great deal to look forward to.


“We are proud of all that we have achieved but none of it would have been possible without the tremendous support and guidance of our chairman His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nahyan, the Board of Directors and the Government of Abu Dhabi. I would like to place on record publicly my thanks and sincere appreciation for all they have done for Etihad Airways.”


The airline has carried more than 4.4 million passengers so far in 2008 and expects to carry more than six million passengers by the end of year, with average seat factors forecast to be 75 per cent. The number of passengers has grown from 340,000 in 2004 to one million in 2005,  2.8 million in 2006 and 4.6 million in 2007.


Etihad has launched four new destinations so far in 2008, starting flights to Beijing, the Indian cities of Kozikhode (Calicut) and Chennai (Madras) as well as Minsk, the capital city of Belarus.


The airline will launch non-stop flights from its Abu Dhabi base to Almaty in Kazakhstan on December 2 and the Russian capital, Moscow, on December 1. Etihad will also start flying in early March 2009 to Melbourne in Australia and Lagos in Nigeria.


Etihad recently boosted its flying programme to Australia, with an increase to its existing daily service to Sydney to 11 flights per week and added a third daily flight to London Heathrow, the world’s busiest international airport.


As Etihad has grown during the last five years so has the number of employees, with more than 6,600 staff now working for the airline, with the majority living and working in Abu Dhabi representing 116 different nationalities, including more than 3,300 cabin crew and 720 pilots.


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