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Etihad Airways to break even within two years

posted on 24/11/2005: 1823 views

Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the UAE, is expected to break even within two years' time, according to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nahyan, Chairman of Etihad Airways. Speaking at the Dubai Airshow 2005 on Wednesday, he said the airline was currently having more than 75 per cent seat load factor according to reports in the UAE's dailies.

This year it is projected to carry 1.2 million passengers, while next year the traffic is expected to reach 3.5 million passengers. He said by the end of this year the airline would have 20 destinations, covering four continents, while next year the number of destinations will increase to 30.

Sheikh Ahmed also said that Etihad would start receiving its aircraft in January and starting from end of 2007 two aircraft a month. Last year, Etihad Airways placed a substantial order worth $8 billion for new aircraft, including 24 Airbus aircraft (four A340-500s, four A340-600s, 12 A330-200s, four A380s) and five Boeing 777-300ERs.

He said the airline would most probably place another order for new aircraft after receiving the first bunch of planes. Asked whether it would be Boeing or Airbus, he said: 'We are studying both options.' Speaking about the Abu Dhabi International Airport Dh21 billion expansion plan, he said: 'We already started the second runway.

The design is finished (and) in three years it will be completed.' Asked whether the region will have an overcapacity in airports he said: 'I think it will be busy (for) everyone. This region used to be a hub and now it becomes a destination.' He said to boost tourism and passengers flow through the Abu Dhabi International Airport, the emirate would build at least 10,000 rooms in the coming couple of years.

'We (also) look at building our own hotels.' He said the construction of one of them - a 300-room hotel at the airport would start in a month's time. Owned by the Abu Dhabi Department of Civil Aviation, it will be run by an operator, he said, adding that -'we are currently looking for one.' Sheikh Ahmed also said Etihad Airways was planning to buy 40 per cent of Gulf Air shares in Gulf Aircraft Maintenance Company (Gamco). Earlier this year Abu Dhabi announced Dh21 billion-expansion plan of the Abu Dhabi International Airport. The master plan involves the construction of a new midfield passenger terminal and a second runway at a distance of 2,000 metres from the existing runway. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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