Fly with class
BY SANDY STRASSER
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 1 2016)
When Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman sits back, relaxes and enjoys delicious food and an exquisite wine, we don’t find ourselves in a luxury restaurant somewhere in Los Angeles or the Hamptons, but above the clouds. As a guest of one of the leading airlines in the world, with Etihad Airways you experience comfort in a class of its own. It’s no wonder that the company was awarded the title ‘World’s Leading Airline’ for the seventh time in a row at the World Travel Awards (WTA) last year.
In 2003, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates was founded with the governmental decree from the Emir of Abu Dhabi and has since then been working on its reputation and success. The word Etihad originally comes from the Arabic for ‘alliance’ or ‘union’. What is especially important for the company is the continued development of a strong basis of codeshare partnerships and minority shares in strategically important airlines, which creates access to hundreds of travel destinations. At the same time, the company wants to represent the best Arabian hospitality and redefine the catering standards in air travel.
These are ambitious goals which also impressed the jury of the World Travel Awards. And so it didn’t stop at the award for ‘World’s Leading Airline’ in Morocco last December, Etihad won the jury over in the categories ‘World’s Leading Airline - First Class’, ‘World’s Leading In-flight Entertainment’ and ‘World’s Leading Cabin Crew’. The awards marked the closing of a remarkable year. The airline took up business with the Airbus A380 and the Boeing B787 Dreamliner which present the most innovative airplane cabins in the world. Inspired by the best hotels and restaurants in the world, the first-class service includes a choice of the most diverse food and drinks in addition to a personalised welcome letter from the cabin manager and an elegant cocktail reception. A superlative range of entertainment options as well as free internet are also on offer in their airplanes such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing B787 fleet.
The members of the cabin crew come from a total of 118 countries. Thanks to the international staff, the airline can fulfil the needs of their guests all over the world. It is the only airline with a crew with such wide-ranging qualifications. Among these is a butler, trained at the London Savoy hotel, who takes care of the well-being of the guests on board the A380 fleet. Apart from that there is a chef in the First Class section, food & beverage manager in Business Class, cabin manager, flight attendant and the flying nannies, trained at the famous Norland College, who look after the youngest guests.
Chief Commercial Officer Peter Baumgartner says: “Once more, our efforts to redefine the flying experience have gained us the most important award in the branch - the title ‘World’s Leading Airline’. That is a significant reward for our considerable efforts to transform a young and progressive company into a global market leader in the areas of innovation, hospitality and style. We will continue to influence the air travel branch by investing in the best employees, products and technologies. In doing so we can turn a highly acclaimed brand into an undisputed leading provider of flight experiences of the highest level within all classes of travel.”
James Hogan, President and CEO, says: “Etihad Airways and our 27,000 employees worldwide are redefining the flight experience. Our customers benefit from the offer of first-class hospitality and revolutionary products and have access to places in the world which would not otherwise be offered, or which can only be reached with difficulty”. Hogan goes on: “We don’t want to be the biggest. At Etihad, the goal has always been to be the best. Thanks to our tripartite strategy, which includes organic growth, codeshare services as well as alliances with equity partners, we can definitely compete with airlines which are bigger and which have existed on the market for considerably longer.
Innovation is the centre of everything we do within the framework of our business activities with Etihad Airways and our partners. In a business environment, which is significantly influenced by competition, it is always about improving productivity and increasing efficiency to the highest level. Although we work together, each of our partners alone is a strong and growing company. But together we can multiply this strength”.
Hogan has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways since September 2006 and is jointly responsible for its rapid growth. In 2015 alone, six new routes on three continents were added. The airline’s global network now offers 116 destinations in total, their fleet consists of 120 aircraft - a further 200 have been ordered. A growing passenger and airfreight network in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and America is additionally being run. A considerable part of the growth strategy is the takeover of equity shares in other airlines. For example, last year the company took over 49 percent of the Italian airline Alitalia and this added to the minority share in airberlin, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles and Etihad Regional.
With over 30 years’ experience in the travel industry, James Hogan was appointed President and CEO of the airline Etihad Airways, based in Abu Dhabi, on 10 September 2006. He has overseen the speedy growth of the UAE’s national airline, which now has a rapidly-expanding network of destinations in the passenger and airfreight branches in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America which are being reached with an ever-growing fleet of modern, environmentally friendly airplanes.
Picture credits © Etihad Airways