Etihad expects to reach 85% load on Abu Dhabi route
UAE-BASED Etihad Airways expects to achieve an 85 per cent load factor on its Dublin to Abu Dhabi route this year.
In spite of this strong performance, its chief executive James Hogan said yesterday that it would not be in a position to move to a twice-daily service until 2016, when Boeing 787 aircraft would be available in its fleet.
“The plan is to go double daily but it won’t be before 2016. But what it shows is that we’re here for the long term,” Mr Hogan told The Irish Times.
Etihad began flying from Dublin in 2007 and operates 10 flights a week. It expects to carry its one millionth passenger on the Dublin-Dubai route in the first half of next year.
He reiterated that the route was profitable for Etihad.
Mr Hogan said its code-sharing deal with Aer Lingus, which took effect in September, has performed well. “We were happy to get the code-sharing up and running and this is working well,” Mr Hogan said.
The airline said the code-sharing arrangement delivered more than 500 transfer passengers in the first month of operation.
Mr Hogan said 20 per cent of Etihad’s revenues now came from its multitude of code-sharing arrangements.
The airline recently agreed a deal with Air France-KLM. It also has strategic stakes in Air Berlin and Air Seychelles.
Etihad owns just under 3 per cent of Aer Lingus and has expressed an interest in acquiring the Government’s 25 per cent stake when it is put up for sale.
However, Mr Hogan would not be drawn on Etihad’s intentions in relation to Aer Lingus, citing the fact that Ryanair had made an offer for its Irish rival that is under consideration by the European Commission.
“We are watching the situation and we are focused on the commercial agreement we have put in place [with Aer Lingus].”
He stressed that Etihad was “committed” to Aer Lingus.
Mr Hogan said its new aircraft would have a different business-class cabin and wifi internet access throughout. Etihad plans to charge economy passengers $10 or $20, depending on which package they use.
The service will be complimentary for passengers in first- and business-class cabins.
Etihad will add three new aircraft to its fleet this year and 13 in 2013. It plans to add Washington DC, Sao Paolo and Vietnam to its network of direct flights from Abu Dhabi.