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Tue 1 May 2007 10:39 AM

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Etihad to launch web bookings

The airline's CEO looks to drive the company forward with internet-based packages and a global call centre.

Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan has declared his intention to drive holiday bookings online.

"I am keen to build our holiday proposition around the web, rather than the traditional way through brochures, and we are currently looking at cutting-edge web technology," he told
ATN

exclusively.

"We are keen to develop web-based packages and hope to open a global call centre by the end of the year, employing between 250 and 300 people."

He aimed to roll out the web proposition in H2, pending the development of relevant technology.

But Hogan did stress that Etihad was "a travel agent-friendly" airline that realised the trade's value as a distribution channel.

With substantial in-bound visitor growth predicted for Abu Dhabi, facilitated by Etihad's burgeoning network, Hogan said the airline was also looking to better serve customers staying or stopping over in the emirate.

"We are looking at opportunities that make sense, such as [operating our own] hotels in Abu Dhabi," he said.

The CEO also revealed the airline was on track to break even in 2010 and that his job over the next three years was to "put the glue into the business and ensure we consolidate by 2010 to give the shareholders the opportunity to move forward once again".

"The next three years is about invigorating the brand, focusing on the operations side of the business; the recruitment of cabin crew, the training and development of our service proposition, the development of our routes and getting the right yields and connectivity out of the hub," he added.

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