Etihad Airways plans expansion in China and Africa

DUBLIN // Etihad Airways plans to expand in China and Africa to boost traffic flows and close any gaps in its network, James Hogan, the chief executive of the airline’s parent group said on Tuesday.

Speaking in Dublin ahead of the International Air Travel Association annual general meeting, he said: “With the exception of China, there aren’t too many gaps that we have in the network”, adding that Africa and China are two big markets with significant traffic flows.

Etihad had asked to fly into secondary cities in China, according Mr Hogan.

“If we achieve those cities, then we would like to do more flying into China,” he said, without naming those destinations.

Speaking about Africa, Mr Hogan said that he would like to expand there, but the regulatory process is difficult. Asked if Etihad would invest in the continent’s poor infrastructure, Mr Hogan said: “no, well never say never”.

Moving ahead over the next 24 months, Etihad will focus on deepening its network and adding more frequencies on existing routes. “You won’t see too many new cities than what we have,” he said.

For the US, Mr Hogan said that America’s big three airlines’ attempt to curb Etihad and other Gulf airlines from flying more frequently to the US last year was unfruitful. “As far as I am concerned, business is as usual,” he said.

Etihad has been growing its network via codeshares with other airlines and through its equity investments. Currently it holds minority stakes in seven airlines – Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, airberlin, Swiss-based Etihad Regional, Virgin Australia and India’s Jet Airways.

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