Air­bus and Boe­ing must be smil­ing all the way to the bank…


Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - AU­DREY D’AN­GELO

SAA’S code­share part­ner, Eti­had Air­ways, and the other United Arab Emi­rates air­line, Emi­rates, which flies into Cape Town Air­port and also has code­share ar­range­ments with SAA on the route be­tween South Africa and Dubai, were the big­gest cus­tomers for new air­craft at the Dubai Air show this week, show­ing that both are con­tin­u­ing plans to make their home air­ports the hubs for con­nect­ing flights to most of the world.

Eti­had or­dered a to­tal of 199 air­craft and 294 en­gines in a $67 bil­lion deal which will en­able it to ac­cel­er­ate its growth over the next decade. It an­nounced firm or­ders for 87 Air­bus and 56 Boe­ing air­craft, with a fur­ther 56 op­tions and pur­chase rights.

The new air­craft will be pow­ered by 127 GE Avi­a­tion, 115 Roll­sRoyce and 52 CFM en­gines. They will be used to launch into new mar­kets and in­crease fre­quen­cies on ex­ist­ing routes, as well as pro­gres­sively re­plac­ing older, less ef­fi­cient air­craft.

Eti­had will not fly all th­ese air­craft it­self. It has taken shares in other air­lines all round the world, rang­ing from Air Ber­lin and Air Ser­bia to Air Sey­chelles, and will be able to re­di­rect some of its or­ders for new air­craft to th­ese mem­bers of its eq­uity al­liance, al­low­ing ca­pac­ity to be pro­vided where it is most needed while im­prov­ing fleet com­mon­al­ity and shar­ing costs. De­liv­er­ies of 25 next-gen­er­a­tion Boe­ing 777X air­craft, 30 Boe­ing 787-10 Dream­lin­ers, one Boe­ing 777 freighter, 50 Air­bus A350 XWB (ex­tra-wide-bod­ied), 36 Air­bus A320­neo fam­ily air­craft and one Air­bus A330-200F, will start in 2018.

Eti­had cur­rently has a fleet of 86 air­craft, with more than 80 on firm or­der, in­clud­ing those for 100 air­craft or­dered at the Farn­bor­ough Air Show in 2008. It will now be­come the sin­gle largest cus­tomer for the Boe­ing 787 Dream­liner, with the 30 air­craft in the lat­est or­der be­ing added to 41 an­nounced pre­vi­ously.

James Ho­gan, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Eti­had, pointed out that the air­line was founded only 10 years ago and in just one decade had grown into one with 86 air­craft, car­ry­ing more than 11 mil­lion pas­sen­gers on 97 routes, served by more than 16 500 em­ploy­ees. It now had seven eq­uity al­liance part­ners reach­ing across the world and “a busi­ness strat­egy that has seen us cre­ate the world’s lead­ing air­line. We have achieved all this while reach­ing sus­tain­able prof­itabil­ity.”

Eti­had Air­ways cur­rently holds stakes in Air Ber­lin, Air Sey­chelles, Aer Lin­gus, Vir­gin Aus- tralia and Air Ser­bia and has re­ceived reg­u­la­tory ap­proval for a pro­posed 24 per­cent in­vest­ment in In­dia’s Jet Air­ways.

Dur­ing the past week it an­nounced the ac­qui­si­tion of a 33.3 per­cent stake in Swiss car­rier Dar­win Air­line, which will of­fer Eti­had Air­ways’ first branded re­gional op­er­a­tions un­der the new Eti­had Re­gional badge and liv­ery.

I have tried to find out if it has of­fered to take a stake in SAA but nei­ther air­line has re­sponded to my in­quiries.

Swis­sair, then the Swiss na­tional air­line, took a 10 per­cent stake in our na­tional car­rier years ago. But this was bought back when Swis­sair ran into dif­fi­cul­ties which ended in its bank­ruptcy and, even­tu­ally, the ac­qui­si­tion of the smaller air­line that suc­ceeded it by Ger­man air­line Lufthansa.

In South Africa, Lon­don-reg­is­tered low-cost air­line Fast­jet has ap­pointed long-es­tab­lished agency Hol­i­day Avi­a­tion, which acts for sev­eral other air­lines, in­clud­ing Air Namibia, to han­dle book­ings for its new ser­vice be­tween Dar es Salaam and Joburg.

It flies three times a week at present at a frac­tion of the fare charged by SAA on the route and plans to in­crease the num­ber of flights if de­mand re­quires it. Fast­jet, which aims at be­com­ing a panAfrican air­line, also has an of­fice at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Joburg.


ON THE MOVE: A flight at­ten­dant of Eti­had Air­ways holds a model of the Air­bus A350 dur­ing the Dubai Air­show. The air­lines said it had bought a 33.3 per­cent stake in Swiss car­rier Dar­win Air­line, adding to the com­pany’s port­fo­lio of mi­nor­ity stakes in global air­lines.

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