Etihad CEO To GBTA: 'We Bring Market Competition'
Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer James Hogan told the Global Business Travel Association annual convention today that his Gulf-based airline gives customers the one thing they want — choice.
“What we bring to the market is competition, we bring fantastic choice in regard to product and services,” Hogan said during a panel discussion on the future of airline competition. “We see strong demand in premium and we’re very focused on the business traveler — when you look at our lounges, when you look at the services that we provide — to ensure that the trip is as seamless as it can be.”
Hogan said Etihad’s markets include places where American, Delta and United — which have alleged Etihad, Emirates and Qatar skew the marketplace by taking government subsidies — don’t really fly to, including China, India and Southeast Asia.
Hogan also discussed Etihad’s unique business model which extends the airline’s organic growth through codeshare partnerships and equity investments in key global airlines, including airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, and Swiss-based Darwin Airline, to offer a network of more than 500 destinations worldwide.
“Our equity strategy is about how we build our network,” he said. “We work in a digital age where the consumer, whether it’s corporate or leisure, can go online and they look to points of the world they wish to travel. Now within that, we have a partnership with these airlines where we’re now strengthening our global network — top line generating revenue and bottom line tackling cost together."
As usual, the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies, serving as the umbrella group for the big three U.S. airlines, was quick to offer a counter-statement.
“James Hogan continues to tout Etihad’s rapid expansion into the United States and around the globe, but he conveniently fails to acknowledge the airlines’ exponential increases in service is due to the billions of dollars in subsidies and unfair benefits the company receives from its benefactor and owner, the government of the United Arab Emirates,” Jill Zuckman, the Partnership’s spokesperson, said. “Given a similar blank check, any airline would be able to gain market share and undercut prices without the concern of turning a profit. It’s time for the U.S. government to stand up for the U.S. carriers and their workers and address the unfair subsidies that violate Open Skies policies once and for all.”
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