Dubai Air Show

Etihad kicks off next phase of strategic investments

 - November 16, 2009, 8:26 AM

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways plans to spend $750 million on its workforce, fleet, in-flight service and planning and resourcing systems to support record-breaking airplane and engine orders placed at the last Farnborough and Paris Air Shows.
“Now we are taking the next steps,” Etihad CEO James Hogan declared here at the show yesterday. “Over the course of this week, we will announce a series of strategic contracts, partnerships and initiatives that will address key strategic elements of our business and allow us to deliver on our long-term plans.”

The contracts and signings will include maintenance, retrofitting, cabin upgrades and component support for aircraft now in the fleet or scheduled for delivery over the coming years. The airline will also announce deals that will see the introduction of new software systems aimed at improving the airline’s flight planning and cabin and flight-crew resourcing.

Meanwhile, under its continuing effort to boost its “Emiratization” program, the airline has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Institute of Applied Technology to provide students with opportunities to build careers with Etihad. The MOU covers a range of elements, including development of training schemes and academic curriculums, on-the-job training and joint marketing initiatives.

Other announcements expected this week include a contract with Panasonic to install in-flight entertainment systems on board the airline’s new A330-300s and Boeing 777s, scheduled for delivery from December 2009 and 2011, respectively, and a $200 million contract with International Aero Engines covering overhaul and repair service for 14 narrowbody Airbuses. Etihad expects to realize “significant cost benefits,” especially in terms of lower fuel consumption, reliability and increased flying time between overhauls.

Later this week, Etihad also expects to announce a major contract with Lufthansa Technik to install new BE Aerospace first-class suites in nine A340s currently in service. The work will involve a complete renovation of the cabin, galley areas and a new in-flight entertainment system.

More cabin upgrade work will come under the terms of a contract Etihad planned to announce today involving Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT). A 777 program involves replacing and reconfiguring economy class seats and upgrading the in-flight entertainment system. Under the terms of the contract, ADAT will also completely refurbish the A320 cabins to Etihad’s specifications.

Meanwhile, a $250 million component support deal with Switzerland’s SR Technics will give Etihad easy access to more than 3,000 aircraft components at Abu Dhabi and key outstations, reducing Etihad’s reliance on its own costly parts inventory. 

In another logistics-related deal, Etihad today plans expects to announce a contract with Lufthansa Systems to introduce a new flight planning system, allowing the airline to cut fuel use by up to 5 percent, reduce emissions and benefit from more efficient flight planning processes.

Finally, the airline plans to announce a deal with workforce management software provider Kronos to automate and optimize planning and management processes for Etihad’s 4,000 cabin and flight crew.