While the global financial meltdown has been the bane of existence for the airline industry for the last one year or so, Etihad Airways seems unfazed by it all. In fact, the carrier has been able to ride the recession wave easily in spite of the difficult times, says Pakistan’s Country Manager for Etihad, Amer N. Khan.
“The airline industry wasn’t the only one affected by the recession. There were a lot of other sectors as well. But we are a relatively new airline so we haven’t been affected that badly,” he said, pointing out that the airline has been around for six years and came to Pakistan some five years ago.
Despite the airline industry reporting heavy losses last year, Etihad’s recently published first quarter results show that the airline has registered an increase of 25.4 RPK (Revenue Passenger Kilometres). The carrier has also experienced a double-digit increase in total passenger numbers throughout the Etihad network.
“If we focus specifically on premium, which is the first and business class, we have seen a year-on-year growth by five percent. So Etihad has seen good growth and seems to be coming out of the harder times just fine - which is an encouraging sign,” said Khan, while talking to chutti.pk.
Not just that, added Khan, the future for Etihad with regard to Pakistan is quite bright. The airline is growing continuously as well, what with the introduction of the new airbus aircraft A380 and the consistently regular flights - areas which most other airlines suffer in.
And consistent it must be, since Etihad is one of the key operators responsible for transporting passengers from Pakistan to the Middle East and back: “In a very short period of time, we have been able to build a very loyal and healthy customer base in Pakistan. Etihad has daily flights to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad from Abu Dhabi and is the only airline thus far that is doing that,” explained Khan, pointing out that two extra flights also operate to Peshawar. This puts the total number of flights operating from Pakistan to Abu Dhabi and back at 23. “In a very short period of time, we have been able to increase the market share in Pakistan,” said Khan, emphasising the fact that Pakistan is one of the top 10 destinations as a country on the Etihad network at the moment.
So what is the secret of the airline’s success? “Well, most of it comes from our constant investment into the product, both on the ground and within the aircraft as well,” explained Khan. The aggressive sales and marketing strategies for the last two years and the patronage of the government of Abu Dhabi has really helped the airline to become a success. It is the constant investment into the brand that has proven successful for the airline. In fact, the airline’s first class now has a complete suite while the business class has flat beds. “So you see we have been working constantly to improve our product year after year,” he said, saying that Etihad Pakistan is sure to go a long way.