Etihad Airways President and CEO James Hogan at The Wings Club in New York said, “The highest barrier for the industry is network. You can’t build a global network overnight – in fact, you’d need decades, and billions of dollars, to build networks that could compete against the major airline groups.
“That’s where partnership comes in. From day one, we’ve taken an open partnership approach, working with scores of airlines on codeshare agreements. Then we took that a step further with minority equity investments in strategically important airlines.
“Together, we have been able to create a new competitive choice for air travelers in key markets around the world. That’s good for consumers, good for tourism and good for trade.”
Mr Hogan said Etihad Airways’ entry into the United States market had also brought major benefits to the country.
“We are a tiny player in the US air travel market, with less than 0.01 per cent of daily international departures. However, we have been able to offer major benefits to the United States.
“We connect the US, through our hub in Abu Dhabi, with scores of markets which are simply not served by other carriers. That means we are feeding hundreds of thousands of travelers, leisure and business, into the US. Hundreds of thousands of those get fed onto the US carriers.
“We’ve also been a close business partner with US corporations – most obviously with Boeing and other aerospace suppliers, but we’ve also created major partnerships with Sabre, Honeywell, IBM, Adobe and many others.
“Our total impact on the US economy is more than US$ 440 million a year.”
Mr Hogan said he believed much of the issues raised about Etihad Airways by the Open Skies campaign stemmed from a lack of understanding of the airline’s business model.
“There are many myths about our business. But the truth is that we run as a commercial organisation, with a shareholder that demands a clear return on its investment. We get no subsidies or state support. We have a well remunerated, highly satisfied workforce.
“What we have had is the investment required to compete in such a capital-intensive business. That’s a smart investment when you consider the many advantages Abu Dhabi offers as the focus for a global network airline – as long as there is a return. That’s where our unique partnership model comes in.”