x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Etihad's American dream continues

Etihad Airways is planning to expand further into the Americas following its launch of services to Chicago earlier this month, its chief executive said.

Etihad expects to fly to at least three more cities in the US and one destination in South America under its 10-year business plan.
Etihad expects to fly to at least three more cities in the US and one destination in South America under its 10-year business plan.

Etihad Airways is planning to expand further into the Americas following its launch of services to Chicago earlier this month, its chief executive said. The airline expects to fly to at least three more cities in the US and one destination in South America under its 10-year business plan, said James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad. "The US is a key part of our footprint and continuing plans," Mr Hogan told attendees of a lunch for the American Chamber of Commerce in Abu Dhabi.

Although the US has been in recession for nearly two years, the world's largest economy continues to draw the Gulf's three long-haul carriers, Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways. The airlines are building up huge international networks to develop their Middle East hubs for long-haul travel and directly serve six of the biggest US cities: New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The pace of expansion into the US seems to be increasing. In the past year, Emirates launched the first direct flight from the Gulf to Los Angeles and San Francisco, Qatar Airways started services to Houston, a centre for the US oil industry, while Etihad inaugurated its Chicago service on September 2. Emirates has said it was also considering Seattle, Chicago and Boston in the future. The Etihad chief executive did not say how quickly it planned to deepen its US coverage, which currently includes only New York and Chicago. "Our plans are based on a range of economic indicators and we review and refresh the base plan every six months," Mr Hogan said.

In Latin America, Emirates currently flies the first direct services to Sao Paulo, the commercial centre of Brazil, while Etihad and Qatar Airways are keen to launch their own services in the region. One month into operating its Chicago route, Mr Hogan said he was pleased by the performance of the Chicago services, with the flights more than 70 per cent full. igale@thenational.ae