Etihad Airways, which is second-largest airline and flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, was founded in 2003. From Abu Dhabi International Airport, its main hub, it serves more than 116 destinations in South America, Africa, North America, Europe and Asia with a mixed fleet of 125 Airbus and Boeing aircraft models. This airline has codeshare agreements with about 50 international carriers, including TAP Portugal, Flybe, Air Astana, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia and SriLankan Airlines. In the recently held annual general meeting of International Air Travel Association (IATA), the carrier expressed its desires to expand its business in Africa and enter China market to offer more flight booking options to its customers.
Future Plans for the Carrier
Speaking at the IATA meeting, the chief executive officer of the parent group of the airline said that except for China, their network is well spread out. Therefore, the carrier is planning to start its operations in the secondary cities of China initially. If the plans work out, then expanding the network in this country would be their next step, subsequently offering more air ticket booking options to its passengers. The carrier also wishes to expand its already existing network in Africa but understands that it will take some time since the regulatory process in this nation is difficult. The carrier is also doing its usual business in the US market said the airline CEO, further claiming that some American airlines attempts to curb its services in the US have been unsuccessful.
In the next two years, Etihad will not focus on adding too many destinations in its network. It will be more inclined towards deepening its network and adding more services on its existing routes as well as offering cheap air tickets. Interestingly, the airline has been growing its reach through codeshare agreements and equity investments. As of mid-2016, it has minority stakes in Virgin Australia, Air Seychelles, Air Serbia, Air Berlin, Jet Airways India, Alitalia and Etihad Regional.
Promoting its Premium Airbus A330 Service in a Unique Way
However, beyond strengthening its network and expanding it, the airline has other things up its sleeves as well. In a bid to promote its services on its new premium Airbus A380, Etihad has been putting in a lot of money since last year. This Airbus A380 has been deployed on its several routes between the Middle East and different destinations in the US.
In the first phase of the media campaign for its Airbus A380, it roped in popular Hollywood star, Nicole Kidman, to showcase the product and also cover all its premium services. This year, it has gone a step forward by entering into the virtual reality world to showcase the experience of travelling in an A380. In its new approach, it has taken advantage of YouTube 360 degree video capabilities. Named the Etihad A380 Virtual Reality Experience, the video features Nicole Kidman taking a hypothetical fight in the aircraft and discussing an upcoming feature film with her colleague. In this full immersive video, the entire economy to business and first class cabins have been shown, along with the highlights of the bar as well as the Etihad Residence suite. This video can be seen on web or mobile-based player.
By choosing for the virtual reality experience concept, the carrier has set its eyes on capturing a decent market share in the US, especially targeting the tech-savvy, affluent audience. How far this latest venture by the airline takes it is something to keenly observe in the coming days, and whether it will have any positive effects on its booking for flight tickets.