The FINANCIAL — Etihad Airways President and CEO James Hogan emphasized the importance of consumer choice and innovation as the fundamental drivers of competition in the international airline industry during a public conversation before an audience of approximately 4,000 attendees at the 2015 Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention in Orlando, Fla.
In a discussion, which focused on emerging opportunities and challenges in the global aviation industry, Mr. Hogan noted that business and leisure travellers alike are demanding, and should rightly expect, choices in network, schedules, product and services, loyalty rewards, convenience, and price, according to Etihad Airways.
“What we bring to the market is competition, we bring fantastic choice in regard to product and services,” Mr. Hogan told the audience. “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.”
Mr. Hogan highlighted the impact of rapidly growing markets like China, India and Southeast Asia on international traffic flows and traditional international hubs. He also emphasized Etihad’s unique approach to constantly innovating in order to better serve customers.
“Innovation – one of the greatest things about travel in this era is the consumer can find out so much about your business. In our culture, we don’t have passengers, we have guests and that guest experience – whether it’s first class, business class or economy – is fundamental, and treating the guest with respect,” Mr. Hogan said.
He further noted that Etihad competes on product in the markets in which it operates and that even as a relatively young airline, Etihad has already differentiated itself in the market and attracted global interest with the best-in-class offerings available across every class of service, which includes The Residence, Business Studios, Economy Smart Seats, in-flight chefs, butlers and flying nannies.
Mr. 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 greater choice to consumers, including a network of more than 500 destinations worldwide – all at greater convenience, with one booking and one fare. The airline’s hub in Abu Dhabi now serves as a gateway between the Middle East, Asia and Australia and destinations in Europe and America.
Mr. Hogan said, “Our equity strategy is about how we build our network. 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.”
Etihad Airways’ booth at the GBTA EXPO showcases The Residence, Etihad Airways’ exclusive luxury travel offering available aboard its Airbus A380 aircraft. The only three-room suite in the sky, The Residence offers a truly luxurious travel experience with a double bedroom, ensuite bathroom, and separate living room – complete with a double sofa with ottoman, two dining tables, chilled drinks cabinet, and a 32-inch flat screen TV. Attendees touring The Residence will receive the full luxury experience with the airline’s on-site cabin crew, including a dedicated butler who is available to ensure all customers’ needs are met before, during and after the luxury flight.
Convention goers also have full access to the Business Studios found on the airline’s Airbus A380s and Boeing 787s, which offer an unparalleled level of luxury in business travel, including considerable space, privacy and freedom with a seat that converts into a fully-flat bed, a personal 18-inch touch screen TV, and a unique pneumatic comfort system to adjust the firmness of the seat, in-seat massage and lighting, all at the touch of a button.
The A380 will make its debut in the United States on December 1 when Etihad Airways inaugurates the airline’s first A380 service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Abu Dhabi. In the United States, the Business Studios are already available to travelers who fly from Washington’s Dulles International Airport to Abu Dhabi – and beyond.