Etihad Airways and Jet Airways recorded a 63 per cent surge in passenger numbers between Abu Dhabi and India last year. The pair flew a record 3.3 million last year between the emirate and India, Etihad said.
Etihad bought a 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways, based in Mumbai, for US$379 million in 2013 after India opened up the aviation sector to allow foreign direct investment of up to 49 per cent by foreign airlines in its carriers.
“The strategic tie-up between Etihad and Jet Airways has emerged as one of the most successful alliances in the Indian aviation sector,” said Satish Modh, who was in the aviation industry for 28 years and worked on a turnaround plan for Air India, before becoming director of the Vivekanand Education Society Institute of Management Studies and Research in Mumbai. “The tie-up has given access to Indian passengers going abroad through the network of Etihad.”
He said that the bilateral trade relationship between the countries was helped by aviation ties.
James Hogan, the president and chief executive of Etihad Airways, said that the partnership had resulted in it becoming “a key contributor to India’s dynamic economy”.
Mr Hogan said: “Bilateral relations between the UAE and India continue to grow based on … deep commitment to strengthen economic, cultural and trade ties. There is further room to grow and we are looking at the many opportunities that exist to develop our operations.”
Etihad and Jet together fly about one in five of all international travellers to and from India, which is a fast-growing air travel market.
“In addition, Etihad Airways Cargo operates 14 weekly freighters to four cities in India and flies around 120,000 tonnes of cargo each year in and out of the country, representing around 9 per cent of the total international market,” Etihad said.
The UAE and India, which are among each other’s largest trading partners, are hoping to increase the value of bilateral trade by 60 per cent, to $100 billion, by 2020.
“Our investment in Jet Airways was aimed at being part of the Indian success story,” said Mr Hogan. “Before the Jet deal, Etihad Airways carried only 2 per cent of the international traffic to and from India. We have helped bring Jet Airways back to profitability. Today, Jet Airways is our No 1 equity partner for revenue and passenger contribution on Etihad Airways, and India is Abu Dhabi’s No 1 source market for international visitors.”
Etihad’s investment into Jet had “improved the financial and operational position of Jet Airways”, said Mr Modh.
This month, Jet Airways posted a record quarterly profit for the three months to the end of December. Its earnings were boosted by low crude oil prices, as well as the strategic partnership with Etihad.
The airline reported a net profit of 4.67 billion rupees (Dh251.4 million) for the period – its third consecutive profitable quarter – following years of losses. Etihad Airways operates 175 flights every week to and from 11 Indian cities.
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