The national carrier grew to become the UAE’s second-largest airline in just 15 years since its establishment by Royal Decree in 2003. Its focus on sport particularly helped Etihad Airways surge to global prominence. It has been the key sponsor for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the concluding race of the F1 season. Its partnership with Premier League champions Manchester City, whose shirts and stadium it sponsors, has also helped the brand rise to international standing.
The airline which is wholly owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi with a mandate to operate safely, commercially and profitably today has a network of over 110 passenger and cargo destinations across six continents, with a fleet of more than 120 aircraft. Etihad is one of five key business divisions of the Etihad Aviation Group (EAG), a diversified organisation which includes Etihad Airways Engineering, Etihad Airport Services, Hala Group and Airline Equity Partners.
In January 2019, the airline flew the world’s first commercial flight (Boeing 787) using locally produced sustainable fuel. The announcement was made by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a non-profit entity established by Masdar Institute that is part of Khalifa University of Science and Technology. The flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam marked a major milestone in the development of a clean, alternative aviation fuel to reduce carbon emissions. The initiative also addresses food security in the UAE through the farming of seafood as a core element in the process, a statement said.
In an opinion piece to Arabian Business predicting the year ahead, Robin Kamark, CCO at Etihad Aviation Group, said while the global aviation market is experiencing slowdown due to high supply, it works in the consumer’s favour as they will “most likely always find a seat on [their] desired flight”. Etihad Airways enjoyed steady growth in the first and second quarters of 2018.