Etihad Airways President and CEO James Hogan on Monday emphasized the importance of consumer choice and innovation as the fundamental drivers of competition in the international airline industry during a public conversation before an audience of approximately 4,000 attendees at the 2015 Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention in Orlando, Fla.
In a discussion, which focused on emerging opportunities and challenges in the global aviation industry, Mr. Hogan noted that business and leisure travellers alike are demanding, and should rightly expect, choices in network, schedules, product and services, loyalty rewards, convenience, and price.
“What we bring to the market is competition, we bring fantastic choice in regard to product and services,” Mr. Hogan told the audience. “We see strong demand in premium and we’re very focused on the business traveler – when you look at our lounges, when you look at the services that we provide – to ensure that the trip is as seamless as it can be.”
Mr. Hogan highlighted the impact of rapidly growing markets like China, India and Southeast Asia on international traffic flows and traditional international hubs. He also emphasized Etihad’s unique approach to constantly innovating in order to better serve customers.
“Innovation — one of the greatest things about travel in this era is the consumer can find out so much about your business. In our culture, we don’t have passengers, we have guests and that guest experience — whether it’s first class, business class or economy – is fundamental, and treating the guest with respect,” Mr. Hogan said.
He further noted that Etihad competes on product in the markets in which it operates and that even as a relatively young airline, Etihad has already differentiated itself in the market and attracted global interest with the best-in-class offerings available across every class of service, which includes The Residence, Business Studios, Economy Smart Seats, in-flight chefs, butlers and flying nannies.
Mr. Hogan also discussed Etihad’s unique business model which extends the airline’s organic growth through codeshare partnerships and equity investments in key global airlines, including airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, and Swiss-based Darwin Airline, to offer greater choice to consumers, including a network of more than 500 destinations worldwide — all at greater convenience, with one booking and one fare.
The airline’s hub in Abu Dhabi now serves as a gateway between the Middle East, Asia and Australia and destinations in Europe and America.