Hogan talks candidly about their game-changing business model
One on One with Etihad’s James Hogan and One on One with Jin Jiang’s Cinn Tan. FAA OKs electronic devices gate to gate. Delta adds more transcontinental fully-flat seats. Qatar joins oneworld. Ritz-Carlton bows in India. Conrad enhances Concierge app. Radisson debuts at JFK. Loews Midtown Manhattan opens in January. Southwest, Dish lend iPad 2s. All NewYork-London American flights will lie-flat by March. Boeing, SAA team on biofuel initiative.
BT: So often the traveler is called a“passenger.”I noticed you consistently refer to your customer as a guest; an intentional qualifier?
HOGAN: Our customers are our guests. Most of the current leadership has roots in hospitality so the genuine sense of a guest goes back many years – prior to my arrival. Every person who walks onto that aircraft or into one of our lounges or even speaks to our staff on the ground wants to be treated special, like one of our guests. Not a number but a welcomed guest as if you were welcoming someone in your own home. Service is a significant differentiator for Etihad and this is just one aspect of service where we aim to set ourselves apart.
BT: As an airline group that has an ownership stake in airlines including Air Berlin, Jet Airways, Air Serbia,Virgin Australia, Aer Lingus, and others, there is that open notion of your position and approach to an airline alliance.
HOGAN: There is no question that there is power in numbers. Connecting market segments, product development or supplier leverage and shared services, we just approach it differently. We focus on an equity alliance. If we“both” can’t come together and make money, drive efficiency, and grow more rapidly together, then what is the point? If I can order more 777 aircraft at a better rate by ordering collectively across the equity alliance, both Boeing and the alliance wins! The same consideration goes for the entire business. BT: Favorite aircraft?
HOGAN: The next gen of the 777 is very exciting. The economics, profitability, and technological advancements may yet again advance the business and flying experience.
BT: The traveler’s experience has taken on its own role. Since it is such a personal aspect of travel, how does Etihad approach traveler behavior?
HOGAN: The focus is really across the entire relationship with a guest. Our guest experience spans door-todoor, airport, and of course in-cabin services. Several of the latest in-cabin examples include 600-plus hours of entertainment, Dine on Demand, flying nannies and our new individual suites. The lounge is another area where we look to deliver above-and-beyond experiences for our guests.
BT: Culture is something companies talk about, but at Etihad, it’s been noted that the concept is embraced and taught and you even push the envelope.
HOGAN: We have over 16,000 employees with more than $6 billion in revenue next year.Yes, we are the fastest growing airline in history but that requires an investment in people beyond borders. Pilots, crew and staff all have to have the same mission, and understanding one another is critical. Today we have 1,300 pilots from 110 different countries, 300 Emirate pilots in training and something very exciting – woman emirate pilots! So many people would see that as pushing the envelope; I would say it is having some of the most talented pilots in commercial aviation.
BT: What is your secret weapon?
HOGAN: Without question – our people, product and service we offer our guests.