Etihad reports strongest first-half performance to date
Etihad Airways has reported its strongest first half performance to date, with large increases in both passenger and cargo traffic. The airline experienced double digit growth in the first half of 2010, with passenger numbers up 11% and revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) up 22.6% over the same period last year.The growth in passenger numbers, to almost 3.3 million, was accompanied by a rise in seat factors, from 71.5% to 72.5%. There was also a 21.6% increase in cargo tonnage carried during the quarter, with revenues up by 59%. Despite growth of 20.9% in available seat kilometres (ASKs), the airline reduced its costs per available seat kilometre by 4% in the six months ended 30 June.The improvements were seen despite the difficulties caused by the volcanic ash which covered Europe’s air routes in April, causing severe disruption to air travel during the month.The airline cited a number of developments that contributed to its strong performance during the period, including the establishment of non-stop flights to Tokyo, Baghdad and Erbil; and being awarded the Airbus Top Operational Excellence Award for its fleet of A340-500/600 aircraft at the Airbus Technical Symposium in Berlin, after the airline was found to outperform other airline fleets based on a number of criteria for operational excellence over a two-year period.James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are very pleased with our performance over the first half of this year. Despite the continuing economic challenges faced by all airlines, our investment in infrastructure and in our service offer is paying off.”Looking forward, the trends are promising, with forward bookings on an upward trajectory. We are also seeing signs of improvements in premium traffic.”With this continued improvement in our passenger and cargo traffic, particularly in the premium cabins, we are confident of meeting our targets.”The airline will operate a total of 1,032 flights a week this summer, a 16% rise on the 888 weekly flights that operated during the same season in 2009. The airline has reported strong forward bookings for the summer.