Sky's the limit for Etihad in Ireland

Fri, Apr 13, 2012, 01:00

ONE MORE THING:ETIHAD’S CHIEF executive James Hogan was in town this week to meet his troops and sign a “multimillion euro” five-year extension of its All-Ireland hurling championship sponsorship with the GAA, as well as a deal to brand the new Skyline viewing platform at Croke Park, which opens on June 6th.

On the ongoing speculation about its interest in the Government’s 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus, Hogan said: “We haven’t sat down and had that discussion.

“[The Government] are working through their own process. They haven’t come out with any documentation in regard to that process, so we just continue to focus on our knitting.

“We haven’t done any due diligence. Until we do that, there’s nothing to say.”

Is Etihad still interested? “We’ve always said we’re keen to have a look at it as we’re keen to look at other airlines.”

Over the next 10 years, Etihad is due to take delivery of 100 aircraft, which it needs to utilise. It already has strategic investments in Air Berlin and Air Seychelles.

What do those partnerships bring to Etihad?

“It’s about feeding Abu Dhabi and about us feeding their network, too. If you look at our partnership with Air Berlin, for every one sale they are giving us for our system, we are giving them three into theirs because they don’t have a presence in southeast Asia or Australia. That’s the opportunity.

“Likewise, they’ll be able to feed into our system. So when they go to corporates, travel agents or tour operators, they’ve got a global proposition.”

How does he rate Aer Lingus? “I think they’ve done a very good job. Christoph [Mueller, chief executive] has done a good job turning it around.”

Hogan said he won’t “take on anyone else’s problem”, which might be a coded reference to Aer Lingus’s large pension deficit.

He said Etihad’s 10-times-a-week route from Dublin to Abu Dhabi continues to perform well, in spite of competition this year from Dubai rival Emirates.

Etihad’s line maintenance facility in Dublin is also performing well, Hogan said.

“We’re so good we even do the line work for Emirates,” he said with a broad smile.

Etihad’s recruitment roadshow returns to Dublin on April 25th to hire more cabin crew, having recruited 57 here last year. “If I could get 100 cabin crew I’d be delighted, if I could get 150 I’d be over the moon.”