Etihad to expand regional brand outside Europe amidst record profits

Expansion comes as UAE carrier announces a third consecutive year of profit, up 48% in 2013

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways could expand its new Etihad Regional brand beyond Europe, according to the company’s president and CEO James Hogan.

The first Etihad Regional operation was announced last November when Etihad bought a 33.3 percent stake in Darwin Airline and rebranded the Swiss-based carrier. The concept is to link Etihad Regional to seven European gateways already served by Etihad Airways.

“We have had three approaches from airlines in different parts of the world who are interested in becoming part of this concept, so it is possible that you will see Etihad Regional anywhere in the world,” Hogan said in a telephone interview with Arabian Business.

Hogan said the talks were on-going, and whilst he would not specify which part of the world Etihad Regional could move into, he added it was “not in the US.”

The news came as Hogan announced a third consecutive year of profit, with net profit rising 48 percent to $62m in 2013. Total revenues rose 27 percent to $6.1bn.

The record performance also saw earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) up 22 percent to $208m and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and rentals (EBITDAR) up 30 percent to $979m, a margin of 16 percent of total revenues.

This marked the third successive year of net profitability, in the airline’s tenth year of operation.

Passenger numbers rose 12 percent 11.5m and Revenue Passenger Kilometres (RPKs) – measuring passenger journeys - increased by 16 percent to 55.5bn. The UAE flag carrier added six new destinations during the year – Washington DC, Amsterdam, Sao Paulo, Belgrade, Ho Chi Minh City and Sana’a - and increased capacity on 18 existing routes.

The airline has announced nine new destinations for 2014 – the US cities of Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth, the European gateways of Rome and Zurich, Jaipur in India, Perth in Western Australia, Phuket in Thailand, Medina in Saudi Arabia and Yerevan in Armenia. 

One of the big drivers in growth during 2013 was Etihad’s strategy of wide-ranging codeshares and its unique approach of minority equity investments in strategically important airlines. This delivered revenues of $820m in 2013, a 30 percent jump on the previous year, and equates to 21 percent of total revenues.

“We embarked on a different strategy and it is a strategy that continues to work,” Hogan said.

The company has also announced the creation of the Etihad Aviation Group, a new structure marking the transition from a single entity airline to a wider global aviation group, which will be headed by Hogan.

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