Etihad Airways has announced deals with Airbus and Boeing that will quadruple the size of its fleet, adding 100 aircraft -including 10 Airbus A380 superjumbos and 35 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad unveiled the orders, worth US$21 billion, at the Farnborough Air Show. The aircraft are for delivery between 2011 and 2020.
Etihad’s $12-billion order with Airbus includes 25 A350s and 20 A320s, while its $9-billion deal with Boeing will include delivery of 10 777s.
In addition, Etihad has options to acquire another 55 aircraft – including 25 Dreamliners and five A380s and has agreed the price on a further 50 aircraft, enough to near double its fleet again. The orders confirm the carrier’s plans for rapid expansion despite fears of a downturn in air traffic in Europe and the US. Etihad currently has a fleet of 38 aircraft.
Airline chief executive James Hogan said: “This reflects the strength and pace of growth in Abu Dhabi and the role Etihad will play in its future. Planned investments in infrastructure and projects in the Emirate are likely to exceed US$200 billion during the next 10 years, [with] an aggressive tourism push and enormous residential development.”
Hogan added: “The size of our order mirrors the rising prominence of the Middle East as a new focal point of global aviation.”
Launched in late 2003, Etihad carried 4.6 million passengers in 2007 and traffic at its Abu Dhabi hub increased by 30% last year.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has yet to make its maiden flight following a series of production delays and will not enter service until next year, but advance orders now exceed 900. The 787 should be substantially more fuel efficient than existing aircraft of its size, with its design is expected to transform long-haul travel.
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