Etihad has continued to achieve record growth in the third quarter of 2013, with revenue from passenger services exceeding US$1 billion for the first time and passenger numbers passing three million.
Total revenue rose 11 per cent to US$1.4 billion, while the airline’s network-wide passenger load factors reached 81 per cent reflecting both astute capacity management and customer attraction. Passenger revenues increased by 10 per cent to just over US$1.03 billion, while Etihad continues to defy global downturns in airfreight uplift to increase its cargo revenue by 39 per cent to US$244 million.
One of the key platforms for Etihad’s growth has been its rapidly increasing portfolio of equity and alliance arrangements with other airlines, from which revenue rose some 36 per cent to US$247 million. Etihad said partnership contributions accounted for 23 per cent of total Q3 passenger revenue, while passenger numbers rose by 11 per cent to 3.06 million.
Virgin Australia has played a material role in that growth, Etihad this week increasing its equity in the Australian airline to now 19.9 per cent.
Etihad’s CEO, James Hogan, said the airline would continue to develop its partnership strategy.
“Headlining our partnership activities, we continued to work closely with regulatory authorities in India as we progressed our plans to acquire 24 per cent of Jet Airways – the first offshore investment in an Indian airline under the country’s Foreign Direct Investment legislation.”
Coincidental to those negotiations was the decision this week to purchase five 777-200LRs from Jet Airways rival Air India. The six-year-old aircraft will be used on the airline’s new route between Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles, which starts in June.
The purchase comes as Etihad Airways finalises details on a new fleet order which will meet its organic growth and expansion requirements to 2025 in line with its rolling network plan.
“This tactical addition to our fleet adds even further flexibility,” Hogan said about the purchase. “We’ve been able to respond quickly to a positive opportunity to add to the fleet, allowing us to bring forward our launch plans for a number of new routes.”
The Boeing 777-200LR, of which fewer than 60 were built, has a design range of 17,370 km, allowing it to connect Etihad’s hub at Abu Dhabi with almost any city in the world.
Etihad’s current fleet will reach 87 aircraft by year’s end, with 14 new deliveries from aircraft manufacturers during 2013. The airline’s long-term fleet strategy to the end of the decade is based on its order, announced at Farnborough in 2008, for up to 205 Boeing and Airbus aircraft.