Monday, November 4, 2013
Etihad Airlines CEO Sketches Out Growth Plans For U.S.
Etihad Airways said it would launch daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles to the carrier's Abu Dhabi home hub starting in June 2014, and Chief Executive James Hogan predicted the carrier would add service to another U.S. destination sometime next year.
Etihad, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will fly an extended-range Boeing 777 on the L.A. route, which Mr. Hogan said in an interview would cater to business passengers, well-heeled Middle Eastern travelers and tourists seeking to use the Abu Dhabi hub to make connections to cities in Southern Europe, Asia and elsewhere.
Etihad already flies to New York, Chicago and Washington, and its ambitious growth plans were highlighted by the U.S. government's decision earlier this year to establish a U.S. preclearance customs facility in Abu Dhabi slated to go into operation in December. Mr. Hogan declined to identify the carrier's next U.S. destination.
Etihad serves 95 destinations around the globe. It also enjoys code-share, or shared-ticketing, arrangements with 46 airlines, and has concentrated on taking equity stakes in various carriers to expand its network.
Mr. Hogan said his team is looking at expanding to additional destinations in India, Europe and Southeast Asia next year, even as the carrier is scheduled to receive its first Airbus A380 superjumbo jets and Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner models. Despite the Chicago plane maker's technical problems and production delays affecting Dreamliners, Mr. Hogan said "we're very comfortable where we are with the 787 program."
In India, where Etihad is in the final stages of obtaining regulatory approval for a 24% stake in Jet Airways, Mr. Hogan predicted the new partnership would quickly serve a total of 26 cities in that country from Abu Dhabi, versus nine today. The linkup with Jet Airways also could end up boosting service to the U.S. and elsewhere.