More than 700 delegates from the airline industry have gathered in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, for the International Air Transport Association’s inaugural World Financial Symposium, which opened today at the city’s Jumeirah Etihad Towers conference centre.
Delegates were welcomed to the conference by His Excellency, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister for Culture, Youth and Community Development.
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, is host airline for the prestigious event. In his opening presentation, the airline’s President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, said Abu Dhabi was not only one of the world’s fastest-growing commercial centres, but also a growing hub for international aviation.
Mr Hogan said: “The air transport industry is growing at a faster rate in the Middle East than anywhere else in the world, and Abu Dhabi is one of the strongest performers in the region.
“This city is a natural junction for emerging markets including India, China and Africa to connect with established markets, and is a major air transport hub of the future.
“Etihad Airways and its airline partners are major drivers of this growth, and Abu Dhabi International Airport is critical not only to our own growth strategy but also to that of Abu Dhabi.
“That is evidenced by the construction of the airport’s spectacular new Midfield Terminal, which will open in July 2017 to accommodate continued strong growth of this city as an international air transport hub.”
Mr Hogan said Etihad Airways would continue to grow through a mix of organic growth, codeshare partnerships and minority investments in some strategically-important airlines.
The airline will also continue to invest in new fleet and industry-leading product, and from December 2014 will introduce two new long-haul aircraft types, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380 super jumbo, both of which will deliver new, industry-leading in-flight product.
The IATA World Financial Symposium, with the theme “Supporting Sustained Airline Financial Health”, will conclude tomorrow afternoon.