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Mon 12 Dec 2011 11:52 AM

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Etihad to be top Dreamliner operator after $2.8bn deal

Abu Dhabi state-controlled airline orders 12 Boeing aircraft in move to expand its fleet

Etihad to be top Dreamliner operator after $2.8bn deal
The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is a slightly bigger version of the 787-8 (shown here)

Etihad
Airways, Abu Dhabi’s state-backed airline, has ordered 10 Boeing 787-9s valued
at $2.3bn at list prices in a deal that will make it the largest operator of the
Dreamliner.

The UAE
flag carrier also ordered two freighter versions of the 777 model for its cargo
operations, taking the value of the deal at list prices to $2.8bn.

Etihad’s
total stock of Dreamliners is currently 41, due for delivery in 2014 through to
2019. It also has options and purchase rights for a further 25 787s.

The order “reflects our confidence in the 787’s ability to
have a significant impact on our operating efficiencies,” said CEO James Hogan.
 

Etihad
said the fuel-efficient Dreamliner will initially be used on routes to Dublin,
Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and Nagoya, Delhi and Istanbul.

Gulf
airlines have continued to grow their fleets despite concerns of a global slowdown
as they look to gain marketshare from rival European and Asian airlines.

Dubai
carrier Emirates Airline signed a $18bn deal with Boeing for the 777 aircraft
in November, marking the airline’s largest civil jet order to date. The biggest
international airline also has options for an additional 20 777s valued at
$8bn.

Qatar
Airways also announced it would add five Airbus A380 superjumbos and 50
A320neos to its order book in a $6.5bn deal with Airbus.

Etihad
signed the largest commercial order in aviation history at the 2009 Farnborough
air show, spanning 100 aircraft with an estimated value of more than $20bn.

Gulf
carriers’ exponential growth has unnerved older airlines and fuelled mutual
accusations of protectionism. The secretary general of the Association of
European Airlines, Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, in February claimed Gulf carriers
were run as part of a national strategy and were a threat to the global
aviation industry.

Etihad
in July reported a 28 percent rise in revenue to $1.72bn for the first half of
2011, putting it on target to generate its first net profit in 2012.

Despite
soaring oil prices and the political unrest in the region, the national carrier
of the UAE said it had reduced costs per available seat by two percent.

The Abu
Dhabi-based carrier is now on target to breakeven in 2011 and to generate its
first net profit in 2012. “We are determined to build a schedule which
increases customer choice and attracts local point-to-point traffic in line
with the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan,” said Hogan.

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