Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will highlight a US $750 million investment in its workforce, fleet, in-flight service and planning and resourcing systems at this week’s Dubai Air Show.
The airline, which earlier in the month celebrated its sixth anniversary, said the investments would address key strategic elements of the business to support the company’s position as the world’s leading airline.
Speaking at a press conference on the second day of the Dubai Air Show, James Hogan, Etihad Airway’s chief executive officer, said: “Etihad has taken great strides forward in only six years. We have created a compelling brand, an outstanding service offer and a strong hub at Abu Dhabi Airport. That progress was recognised last week when Etihad was named the world’s leading airline at the World Travel Awards.
“The record-breaking aircraft and engine orders we made at the Farnborough and Paris air shows demonstrate our transformation into a major player in global aviation. We have set the foundations for future growth and development.
“Now we are taking the next steps. Over the course of this week, we will announce a series of strategic contracts, partnerships and initiatives which will address key strategic elements of our business and allow us to deliver on our long term plans.
Mr Hogan said the contracts and signings would provide maintenance, retro-fitting, cabin upgrades and component support for aircraft currently in the fleet or being delivered over the coming years.
In addition, the airline will also announce deals which will see the introduction of state-of-the-art software systems aimed at improving the airline’s flight planning and cabin and flight crew resourcing.
The airline will also further boost its Emiritisation programme, with an agreement with the Institute of Applied technology to provide students with opportunities to build successful future careers with Etihad.
The other announcements include:
A contract with Panasonic to install one of the world’s most comprehensive in-flight entertainment systems on board our new A330-300 fleet and new Boeing B777 aircraft, scheduled for delivery from December 2009 and 2011, respectively. The new Panasonic eX2 system boasts a host of world-leading entertainment, information and functional features for people in all cabins and of all ages
A US$ 200 million contract with International Aero Engines to provide a comprehensive overhaul and repair service for 14 Airbus aircraft in Etihad’s narrow-body fleet. Transferring engine maintenance responsibility to IAE will deliver significant cost benefits, especially in terms of lower fuel consumption, reliability and increased flying time between maintenance overhauls
A major contract with Lufthansa Technik to install the airline’s new first class suite in nine of its Airbus A340 aircraft currently in service. The work involves a complete renovation of the cabin, galley areas and a new in-flight entertainment system
A contract with Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) to upgrade the cabins in the airline’s Boeing B777 and Airbus A320 fleets. The Boeing B777 programme involves replacing and reconfiguring economy class seats as well as upgrading the in-flight entertainment system. The cabins of the Airbus A320s will be completely refurbished to the latest Etihad specification
A component support deal worth up to US$ 250 million with leading maintenance, repair and overhaul supplier SR Technics, which will give Etihad easy access to more than 3000 aircraft components at Abu Dhabi and key outstations, reducing the need for the airline to maintain large and costly component inventories of its own
An agreement with aviation IT specialist Lufthansa Systems to introduce a new flight planning system, which will enable the airline to significantly reduce fuel costs by up to five per cent, cut emissions and benefit from more efficient flight planning processes
An agreement with leading workforce management software provider Kronos Incorporated to automate and optimise planning and management processes for Etihad’s 4,000 cabin and flight crew. The new crew planning software system will increase the quality of the airline’s crew planning and improve the stability of crew rosters
A key factor behind Etihad’s growth has been its investment in premium cabins. The airline will use the Dubai Air Show to showcase its new first class suite, on one of its newest Airbus A340-600 aircraft.
Mr Hogan said: “The new first class suite is a stunning product that is helping us stand out in the premium travel market. It has been incredibly well-received and we are delighted to be able to roll it out across the A340 fleet so quickly.”
Members of the public will be able to visit the new first class cabin, which contains 12 individual suites that have been designed to provide first class customers with more privacy, greater comfort and increased storage.
Each private suite is accessed by its own sliding door and includes a personal wardrobe and mini bar, as well as 23" wide-screen LCD screen which features more than 600 hours of ‘on demand’ entertainment. Spacious stowage compartments are built into and around the seat.
The first class cabin also features a large and luxurious changing room with a full length mirror, new style wash basin and leather fold-down seat to allow passengers to freshen up and change after take-off and prior to landing.
The announcements come as the airline celebrates its sixth anniversary, a period in which it has grown to serve 57 destinations, with a fleet of 49 aircraft expected to carry more than seven million passengers in 2009.
In a separate signing, Etihad was welcomed by Air Cargo Maximus as a founding partner of a new international initiative by the UAE called ‘Care in the Air’ to support worldwide human relief operations, by providing aid ‘at cost’ to regions in need.
Mr Hogan concluded: “In six years, Etihad has grown to take its place on the global stage, recognised as a serious airline, with serious long-term ambitions.
“Over the next decade, we will see continued expansion of our services around the globe. The heavy investment in the growth and economic diversification of Abu Dhabi is contributing to that development, and we are planning now to meet those future demands.
“But at every stage, we will take a commercial view of our investment strategy, so we can be sure of delivering a satisfactory return to our shareholder.”
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