Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer James Hogan said on Tuesday the Middle East is one of the “strong pockets” for growth in aviation in an “uncertain world”. He delivered his keynote address to delegates at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) World Passenger Symposium taking place in Abu Dhabi.
“Middle East hubs and airlines are leading the way to confront and overcome the serious challenges to global aviation growth and stability and bring about positive change in the industry,” the Etihad Airways supremo said in his speech.
He also spoke in depth about the positive impact the Middle East is having on the global economy and how the focus is shifting from the traditional, more established markets to the emerging economic powerhouses in the Middle East, Asia, South America and Africa.
“There’s an unprecedented focus on service, we are able to work from a new cost control template and there’s no ‘legacy’ airline baggage,” he said.
He insisted that the connectivity provided by Etihad Airways is key to Abu Dhabi’s regional competitiveness. “We relish our integral role in inbound tourism and the promotion of Abu Dhabi as a leading global destination,” James Hogan said.
“Abu Dhabi has a growing, diversifying economy – backed by a Government with the vision, the will and ability to invest in the future.
“The double-digit growth we are seeing is largely supported by the government’s vision for the future which is backed by considerable investment in tourism infrastructure and Abu Dhabi’s willingness to embrace best practice and knowledge in other key areas including manufacturing, education and health.
“Our blueprint for the future is shaped by our commitment to continue our integral and definitive role in the prodigious growth and economic development in the UAE.”
He also described the Etihad Airways journey as one of the fastest-growing airlines in aviation history. The company has grown to 10,000 employees from 125 nationalities, with 67 aircraft and 86 direct destinations and 10 million passengers in less than 10 years since the airline began operations in November 2003.
Aer Lingus link
“Etihad Airways would consider buying the Irish government’s 25% share of Aer Lingus,” the Abu Dhabi flag carrier’s chief executive said on Tuesday.
The Etihad boss said: “If the Irish government approached us to look at the stake, then we would do so.”
The Abu Dhabi airline currently has a 3% stake in Aer Lingus. It is buying stakes in European airlines to enlarge its route network.