Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways announced here yesterday orders for 100 Airbus and Boeing aircraft nominally worth $20 billion. The contracts include options on another 55 jetliners and purchase rights covering an additional 50 machines (see table). If the airline converts all options and purchase rights to firm orders, the value of the overall package would reach about $43 billion in 2008 catalogue prices.
Like fellow Gulf operator Qatar Airways (also expected to announce orders this week), Etihad has been investing heavily in new aircraft as it seeks to compete against Dubai’s established Emirates Airline in meeting travel demand to the region. Abu Dhabi has said it plans to invest some $200 billion in the coming ten years in an aggressive promotion of tourism and residential development.
Established in 2003, the airline’s current 38 aircraft serve 45 destinations and are expected to carry six million passengers this year. Before Etihad came into being, Abu Dhabi owned 25 percent of Bahrain-based Gulf Air.
Airbus has won the lion’s share of the new business, with Etihad booking 55 orders, taking options on 20 more and logging purchase rights for 35 aircraft. Boeing has drawn firm orders for 45 machines, let options on 35 and agreed to purchase rights covering 15 more. Etihad has not selected engines for firmly booked aircraft for which a choice of powerplant exists. All the aircraft are scheduled for delivery between 2011 and 2020, by which time it would have more than 150 aircraft in its fleet.
Etihad currently flies two Airbus A319s, six A320s, 14 A330-200s, eight A340s, two A300-600 freighters, five Boeing 777s and a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 cargo aircraft.
From the neighboring kingdom, Saudi Arabian Alrlines has ordered eight airbus A330-300s that will supplement 22 smaller A320s booked late last year as the national carrier modernises its fleet