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