News and Events

airberlin announced a strategic review of its long-term business model as it reported its 2013 annual financial results. The predominant objective will be to restructure the airline and shape a robust business model that is fit for purpose in today?s competitive market conditions. For this purpose airberlin will strengthen its management board with the appointment of a Chief Restructuring Officer.

In support of this restructuring, Etihad Airways will subscribe to a ?300 million eight per cent perpetual subordinated cumulative convertible guaranteed bond. This will form part of a recapitalisation which is intended to strengthen and assist in the reorganisation of airberlin?s capital structure and secure the improved long-term prospects for the business and its stakeholders. Etihad Airways? stake in airberlin will remain unchanged at 29.21 per cent. airberlin will issue a further bond of a minimum of ?150 million for general corporate financing purposes.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, reaffirmed that Etihad Airways was a strategic minority investor in airberlin, and remained confident and committed for the long term.

He said: ?The airline is clearly in a very challenging position. However, we are confident the business is moving in the right direction, and can be turned around but it needs an accelerated and fundamental restructuring. airberlin has our full support in this process.

?We?re here for the long term - for the airline, the travelling public and the community. With the right strategic vision, and the right implementation, Etihad Airways believes airberlin can become a sustainably profitable business, securing the jobs of its 8,900 employees and the many thousands more workers it indirectly supports.?

Explaining the merits of Etihad Airways? equity investment strategy in Germany, Mr Hogan said: ?This partnership has very clear benefits for Etihad Airways too. When we embarked on our partnership with airberlin in 2011 our access into the tightly restricted German market was limited. We operated just 25 flights per week to three destinations.

?In one single transaction at that time, for less than the cost of a single wide-body aircraft, Etihad Airways gained access to more than 30 million passengers and a combined European network of 228 destinations across 84 countries.

?Today the picture is very different and Germany is at the centre of our European network. Just two years on, the two airlines now operate 56 weekly flights and, in 2013, delivered more than 560,000 passengers onto each other?s networks. This is an increase of 75.3 per cent on 2012, generating more than ?200 million in new revenues.

?The cumulative total of codeshare passengers since our partnership with airberlin began is now approaching one million, and Germany has overtaken the United Kingdom as Etihad Airways? largest outbound European market. airberlin is the biggest contributor of passengers to Etihad Airways? global network.?

Both airlines? passenger numbers are expected to grow further as Etihad Airways? equity alliance partners, such as Air Serbia and Etihad Regional, and airberlin?s broad range of commercial partners extend codesharing to airberlin?s route network.

The benefits of this equity partnership extend beyond network access. Leveraging economies of scale and collective purchasing power, the cost synergies came through joint procurement initiatives in aircraft, engines, maintenance, catering and technology.

The successful contribution came despite very challenging market conditions for airberlin, which reported operating losses for the year ended at 31 December 2013 of -?231.9 million.

The German carrier was successful in reaching its ?200 million cost reduction and revenue contribution target for the year, achieving key elements of its ?Turbine? turnaround program and reducing available seat kilometres, a key measure of capacity, by 5.1 per cent. Business and cost synergies achieved with Etihad Airways played an important part in these savings. However, airberlin reported an unusually sluggish outbound summer season due to the hot weather, followed by the traditionally difficult winter quarter. This was compounded by increased competition and on-going weakness in the European economies.

fastjet Plc, Africa?s low-cost airline, is pleased to announce a global partnership agreement with the Expedia group, the world?s largest online travel company. fastjet flights will now be available to the millions of leisure and business travellers that shop for and book travel via the Expedia group?s extensive brand portfolio which includes leading brands such as, Expedia, the world?s largest full service online travel agency, Hotwire, a leading discount travel site, and Egencia, the world?s fifth largest travel management company serving business travellers in more than 60 countries.

?We are so pleased for the opportunity to expand our selection of flight offerings with the addition of fastjet content to our network of leading travel sites,? said Greg Schulze, senior vice president of Global Tour and Transport, the Expedia group. ?Global travellers are increasingly exploring Africa and we can now provide fastjet flights amongst our broad selection of products and services.?

Commenting on the news, Ellis Cain-Jones, Head of Commercial at fastjet, said: ?Our exciting partnership with the Expedia group represents a giant leap in the implementation of our digital distribution strategy. Initially focused on increasing Internet usage to book fastjet flights within Africa, the second phase of the strategy is dedicated to increasing yields by accessing international markets. The global reach of the Expedia groups? brands will make fastjet accessible in a vast number of international markets?. Cain-Jones added, ?We are really excited to be working with world-renowned and trusted brands such as these and are looking forward to growing our network with the Expedia group.?

Emirates airline will continue to serve all of its worldwide destinations during the forthcoming 80 day period of runway upgrade works at Dubai International Airport starting 1st May.

However, it has had to reduce flights to over 40 destinations, and change timings on some of its flights.

These changes will not impact customers booked to fly between May and July, as the flight schedules were planned and implemented months ahead of time. Customers or travel agents searching for flight options on Emirates will only see those flights that are available, the Dubai-based airline said today.

"Customers who have booked to fly with us, or are considering to fly with us during this time, can be assured that it is business as usual. On routes where Emirates has had to reduce frequency, we have upgraded to bigger aircraft where possible to recover part of the capacity. We have done a lot of preparation work behind the scenes together with all airport stakeholders to ensure that there will be as little inconvenience to our customers as possible, and we look forward to resuming our full schedule of flights in July," said Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline.

"As the biggest operator at Dubai International, accounting for about 50% of traffic, of course we have had to take the biggest hit in reducing flights. There will be an impact on our revenues to the tune of approximately Dh 1 billion. However, we understand the need for this upgrading work to be done, and we support it wholeheartedly. It will add much-needed capacity to the airport, and having world-class infrastructure ultimately means a better experience for customers. So we have to take the long-term view and manage the short term pain," he added.

Emirates will ground 20 aircraft in May, 22 in June, and 22 in July, as Dubai Airports launches a comprehensive runway upgrade project which will see both runways at Dubai International close alternatively for resurfacing and other enhancement works.

All Emirates passenger flights will continue to operate from Dubai International Airport (DXB) during the runway upgrading period from 1st May - 20th July, while its freighter operations will move to Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC) on 1st May as planned. ? Emirates News Agency, WAM

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, last night hosted a VIP reception in Toronto to celebrate the valued contribution of key partners in enhancing air connections between Canada, the UAE and other markets around the world.

The event was attended by James Mueller, Senior Vice President Sales of Etihad Airways, who was joined by more than 150 high-level guests, including government officials, ambassadors, travel agents and trade partners. Etihad Guest Gold Elite members and representatives from the airline's code-share and equity alliance were also present.

Canada is an important market for Etihad Airways, which has carried over 750,000 passengers on the airline's Toronto route since the service commenced in October 2005, equal to more than 25 percent of the city's 2.8 million residents. The popularity of the service has been bolstered by a strong and fast-growing trade relationship between Canada and the UAE.

Transactions between the two countries totalled US$1.6 billion last year, almost 95 percent of which was generated by Canadian exports to the UAE. The UAE is Canada's largest merchandise export market in the Middle East and North Africa.

Etihad Airways has invested in the Canadian economy through the purchase of 11 flight training simulators, valued at more than US$310 million, from Montreal-based manufacturer CAE since 2007. The airline's single largest order was in July last year, when it signed a contract for seven CAE simulators, with a list price value of US$200 million.

150 Canadians are also employed by Etihad Airways, half of whom are pilots and cabin crew. In Toronto, the airline has 12 employees, led by the country manager James Harrison.

Addressing last night's event at the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, Mr. Mueller said, "Canada is a very important market for us, and to Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates. There are approximately 150 Canadian companies in the UAE and more than 40,000 Canadian national residents in the UAE, so demand for travel between our nations is strong.

"As our operations continue to grow in Canada, so does our economic contribution. Etihad Airways' total expenditure in Canada was US$12.2 million last year, excluding fuel and wages." Etihad Airways' partnership with Air Canada was launched in 2013, after the two airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enhance travel services. From 1st May 2014, the agreement will be enhanced to provide Etihad Airways' premium passengers with access to Air Canada's Business Class lounge at Toronto Pearson International Airport. ? Emirates News Agency, WAM

Etihad Regional has marked the start of a twice-weekly service linking Geneva in Switzerland, and Toulouse in south-western France.

Flight F7464 touched down at Toulouse-Blagnac airport yesterday at 4:40pm local time and the newly branded 50-seat Saab 2000 aircraft was greeted by a traditional water cannon salute.

This is Etihad Regional's first year-round route to France from its Swiss base. The airline already operates to Biarritz and Calvi during the summer season and will commence year-round operations to Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseille between May and June.

From May, Etihad Regional plans to operate a larger 68-seat ATR 72-500 aircraft on the Geneva-Toulouse route. From June, the airline will also increase the Geneva-Toulouse services to three flights per week.

Maurizio Merlo, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Regional, said: "We are very excited that we have started this new direct service, linking our Geneva hub with Toulouse.

"The new route is an important milestone in our strategy of expanding operations to key regional cities across Europe and providing travellers with greater choice.

"We are confident it will help boost business and leisure ties at both ends, in addition to flowing traffic on to the services offered by our partner, Etihad Airways." The new Geneva-Toulouse flights are timed to offer guests seamless connections through Geneva to Abu Dhabi and to cities across the globe.

Jean-Michel Vernhes, President of Toulouse-Blagnac airport, said, "We welcome Etihad Regional to Toulouse and are delighted that the new route not only enhances access to Geneva, but beyond to Abu Dhabi and a whole range of destinations.

"For business and leisure travellers from the Midi-Pyr?n?es

region, this route is important because it will improve connectivity between this part of France and the rest of the world, of which we are very supportive." ? Emirates News Agency, WAM

Emirates is to introduce a scheduled A380 service to Kuwait from 16th July, marking the airline's 25th anniversary of flights to the country.

EK 857 and EK 858 will be upgraded to a double decker, bringing Emirates' highly popular flagship aircraft to Kuwait International Airport.

It was 16 July 1989 when Emirates began flights between Dubai and Kuwait, and the airline now serves the route five times daily with a combination of Boeing and Airbus aircraft.

"We would like to express our special thanks to the State of Kuwait, the Aviation Authorities and Kuwait International Airport for their continued support over the past 25 years and for allowing us to bring the A380 into their country. This is a tremendous opportunity for customers travelling to and from Kuwait to enjoy the pride of the Emirates fleet," said Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Centre.

"We have 47 A380s which we deploy all over the world from LA to Auckland, but the experience continues to generate excitement and fascination amongst our passengers and those who come to airports just to catch a glimpse of this magnificent aircraft," he added.

The Emirates A380 is like no other. Passengers travelling in First Class can step out of their Private Suites and visit one of two On-board Shower Spas where they can freshen up with a shower before landing. Both First and Business Class passengers can also chat over drinks and delicious snacks in an On-board Lounge.

Throughout all cabin classes, passengers have access to Wi-Fi, the award winning ice entertainment system and gourmet chef prepared cuisine, served by multi-national cabin crew - all contributing to Emirates being named by Skytrax as the World's Best Airline. The Emirates A380 on the Kuwait route will offer 14 First Class Private Suites, 76 flat-bed seats in Business Class and 399 seats in a quiet and spacious Economy Class.

"It is particularly fitting that we should introduce the A380 on our Kuwait route on the 25th anniversary of services," added Sheikh Majid. "It is underscores our commitment to the market, and we will continue to work hard to deliver a great experience for our customers, and value for their money. I would like to personally thank all those who have flown with us over the past 25 years." Kuwait is only the second market in the Middle East to be served by the airline's flagship aircraft after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Emirates currently operates its A380 to 28 of its 142 global destinations. ? Emirates News Agency, WAM

Today Air Lease Corporation (NYSE: AL) announced lease agreements with China Airlines for three new Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which are scheduled for delivery in 2015 and 2016. These aircraft are from ALC?s order book from Boeing.

?We are excited to announce this strategic placement of three new 737-800s with China Airlines. Although a new customer to ALC, China Airlines and our management team have enjoyed a successful relationship for many years, and therefore we are particularly pleased to now welcome China Airlines to the ALC family,? said John Plueger, President and Chief Operating Officer of Air Lease Corporation.

?China Airlines is very pleased to conclude its first transaction with ALC,? said Huang-Hsiang Sun, Chairman of China Airlines. ?The addition of these new 737-800s will further strengthen our competitiveness in the regional service and enhance our overall product offering.?

AirAsia X, the long haul, low fare airline affiliate of the AirAsia Group and GE Aviation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the selection of CF6-80E1 engines to power AirAsia X's 25 new firm Airbus A330-300 aircraft, with options for an additional three A330 aircraft. These engines will be covered by a multi-year OnPointSM solution service agreement for engine maintenance, repair and overhaul. The list price for the engines and the service agreement is valued at more than $1.5 billion (USD) over the life of the agreement.

At the signing ceremony witnessed by U.S. President Barack Obama, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group CEO said, "To power our new order of 25 additional Airbus A330-300 aircraft, we are pleased to select GE CF6-80E1 engines. GE was selected based on technical reliability and fuel efficiency performance with combined competitive pricing that will ensure AirAsia X maintains our competitive advantage as the world's lowest unit cost airline operator, with industry-leading reliability performance. We firmly intend to be the undisputed global market leader in the long-haul low-cost carrier space.

Tan Sri' Tony Fernandes adds, "With this order, GE will become AirAsia X's second core engine supplier. Our fleet size has reached sufficient scale to support two engine types, with sufficient spare engine coverage, specialist engineers and technicians, and strong on-site service commitment from both engine providers. GE's long -standing relationship and track record with the AirAsia Group, gave us confidence to make this selection."

"GE is proud of its long association with AirAsia Group and are honored to be selected to power AirAsia X's A330 fleet for this large and important order," said Kevin McAllister, Vice President and General Manager of Global Sales & Marketing for GE Aviation. "AirAsia Group is a leading low-cost carrier with domestic, regional and international operations, and CF6 engines will support its competitive international cost position."

GE's CF6 engines have been among the most utilized and reliable in the industry. Powering more than 10 models of wide-body aircraft, the engine family has established an unparalleled record of reliability for more than 40 years with more than 395 million flight-hours in service with more than 200 operators worldwide.

GE Aviation has continuously reinvested in the CF6 platform and is refining component efficiencies across the CF6-80E1 engine to provide improvements in fuel efficiency for Airbus's enhanced A330 aircraft. More than 560 CF6-80E1 engines have been delivered for the Airbus A330 aircraft.

OnPoint solutions are customized service agreements tailored to the operational and financial needs of each customer for any size fleet. These agreements are designed to help lower the customers' cost of ownership and maximize the use of their assets. Backed by GE's global support network, OnPoint services may include overhaul, on wing support, new and used-serviceable parts, component repair, technology upgrades, engine leasing, integrated systems support and diagnostics and integrated systems.

Air Arabia announced on Monday a net profit of Dh435 million for the 2013 financial year, a 2 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2012.

The Sharjah-based budget carrier said the slight increase in profit was due to its network expansion strategy, having launched eight new destinations in 2013.

Turnover for the full year ending December 31, 2013, was Dh3.2 billion, up 14 per cent on the same period in 2013.

However, in the last quarter of the year, Air Arabia reported a Dh94 million net profit for the 2013 fourth quarter, up 12 per cent compared to the Dh84 million reported in the same 2012 period. The airline's turnover for the 2013 fourth quarter was Dh811 million, an 8 per cent increase compared to Dh753 million reported in 2012.

"Air Arabia has enjoyed consistent and sustained growth since launching operations back in October 2003, and our performance in the year of our tenth anniversary was no exception,? stated Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Thani, Chairman of Air Arabia.

More passengers

Air Arabia continues to fly more passengers each year and 6.1 million passengers travelled with the airline in 2013, a 15 per cent increase compared to the 5.3 million passengers carried in 2013. It also maintained an 80 per cent seat load factor throughout 2013.

Seat load factor measures the number of passengers carried against available seats.

"It would be good to start seeing growth in ancillary revenue, but then again a ?LCC' in the Middle East has a different flavour, and outcomes, than those elsewhere in the world,? Will Horton, senior analyst at CAPA ? Centre for Aviation, said in an email.

Air Arabia also has hub operations out of Alexandria, Egypt, and in Morocco. It recently announced that it will become the designated carrier for Ras Al Khaimah, whilst still maintaining its main hub in Sharjah.

"Given Air Arabia's success, I wouldn't suggest they're about to venture into RAK without clear expectations or generous incentives,? Horton stated.

Air Arabia's board of directors has proposed a dividend distribution of 7.25 fils per share, which is subject to ratification by Air Arabia's shareholders.

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Airports, has praised the support of local and international stakeholders for their contribution for making 2013 an exceptional year of unprecedented growth and achievement for the aviation industry in Dubai.

In his message in the February edition of Via Dubai, the monthly bilingual newsletter of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, released in both print and digital formats, remarked: "By any measurement, 2013 was an exceptional year for the UAE due to the tremendous achievements the country has made in almost every economic domain in general and aviation sector in particular. This complements the amazing progress achieved by the UAE over the years and which are etched in our memories and reflects our passion to excel in every domain." He said the UAE stunned the world by bagging the rights, through a multi-tier selection process, to host World Expo in Dubai in 2020. The selection of UAE to stage the world's third biggest global event after the Olympics and FIFA World Cup is a testimony to the professional approach and adept planning worked out by all the parties concerned in a way that makes all of us proud, he added.

Also last year, Dubai Airshow recorded the biggest deals in the civil aviation history exceeding US$213.4 billion, stamping the emirate's strong position as an aviation business hub. It was also last year that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled the UAE Agenda which showcases the country's determination to become the best in the world in infrastructure in general and the aviation sector in particular.

He said the phenomenal number of passengers handled by Dubai International Airport last year will be yet another prove of 2013 being an exceptional year. Preliminary results show that the number of passengers surpassed 66.4 million compared with the 57 million recorded in the year 2012. Meanwhile, Dubai International Airport's expansion plans costing more than US$7.8 billion are progressing swiftly to increase the airport's capacity to more than 90 million passengers with the completion of Concourse D by 2015 along with the expansion and modernisation of Terminal 1 and 2. This is in addition to the opening of the passenger terminal of Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai World Central (DWC) last year which will be transformed into an international travel hub in the next few years.

He said: "We should pursue with passion and determination our biggest goal of Dubai becoming the number one airport in the world, not only for international passengers, which it is expected to become by 2015, but also in terms of services and facilities for the passengers. I personally believe that this achievement will the biggest and will go a long way towards our gigantic ambition to have the world's excellent infrastructure that will support the local and international aviation industry." Mohammed Ahli, Director General of DCAA, said: "Dubai continues its amazing growth rate with more airlines and frequencies to and from different parts of the world. Dubai International Airport is moving forward towards becoming the world's top airport for international passengers by 2015 after recording 66 million passengers in 2013." He added: "Despite the phenomenal growth that it has been witnessing over the years, Dubai boasts of an excellent aviation safety track record and its stakeholders have been working towards maintaining the hard-earned excellence." He said one of the factors behind the Middle East's success is adherence to global standards, according to IATA. The Middle East continues to be a great success story in the aviation industry. IATA noted that about US$40 billion are being invested in airport infrastructure in the Arabian Gulf alone by far-sighted governments, but still the region faces a capacity shortfall. The Arabian Gulf success story is well-grounded in the spirit of cooperation. In fact the Arabian Gulf example is a best practice success story that the IATA is asking all governments to take note of.

In the cover story interview, Ibrahim Ahli, Director of Dubai Air Navigation Services (DANS) Serco, shares insights into the airspace constraints and what is being done to clear the crowded skies. He said the UAE airspace system was projected to accommodate 1.2 million aircraft movements by 2025. This target is broadly equivalent to the current volume of traffic handled in the New York or London areas. So the answer is yes - this needs to be given top priority. The airspace will come under enhanced pressure with Dubai getting the rights to host the Expo 2020 whose three-fourth visitors are expected to be from outside the UAE.

He remarked: "The importance of managing the UAE airspace efficiently is obvious, but the importance of harmonisation with adjacent (and beyond) states is imperative. Without enhancing cooperation from these states, our growth will be hampered, and severe departures- as well as arrivals - delays are inevitable." He disclosed that DANS was leading one of the two working groups formed as a result of the Airbus Prosky study conducted under the aegis of General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) for airspace ?enhancement'. He said new technologies will support the modern airspace development and management. A region wide cooperation is mandatory to sustain the rapid growth of aviation in the Middle Eastern.

Michael Huerta, Administrator of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in his column, asserted that economic growth was bolstered by airports that have invested in long-term planning with the objective of meeting the growing aviation demand of the future.

A strong case for a long term approach for ATM data management was put across by Jeff Poole, Director General of Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO).

Insights into strength of India's aviation industry and plans to enhance its growth in future were shared by Ajit Singh, Minister for Civil Aviation. He said the Indian airport system is poised to handle 336 million domestic and 85 million international passengers by 2020, making India the third largest aviation market. Moreover, it is estimated that commercial fleet size is expected to reach 1000 aircraft worth US$45 billion from 400 today by 2020.

From Australia to UAE and Canada to China, airlines are in the race of fast-tracking their fleet modernisation - the largest jet-buying spree in the history of civil aviation' with orders for 8,200 new planes being placed with Airbus and Boeing.

A combined 24 planes are rolling off assembly lines each week. In Focus section details the trend and its impact on the future of air travel.

Developments in the UAE, Cargo and Logistics and Technology have been covered in the newsletter. The Flashback section details the soaring success of flydubai which, since its launch in 2009, has been steadily adding aircraft and new routes and currently serves 66 destinations. ? Emirates News Agency, WAM

Emirates is the most valuable airline brand worldwide for the third consecutive year, according to The Brand Finance Global 500 report for 2014 released this week.

The airline, now at the 234th position in the list, is also the most valuable brand in the Middle East for the fourth consecutive year, and is currently valued at US $5.48 billion, an increase of 34 per cent over its 2013 value.

"A strong brand is an important business differentiator, and that is why Emirates has continually invested in our brand over the years. We are delighted that our brand valuation has increased and that Emirates has retained its top position, because this reflects our success in engaging our customers, and remaining relevant to them in a fast changing and highly competitive global environment," said Boutros Boutros, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand.

"Emirates flies more passengers over longer distances than any of its rivals and has become the standard by which other airline brands are judged. As employees of the Middle East's most valuable brand, Emirates' staff are ambassadors for the whole region, building bridges and good relationships across cultures with their impeccable service," according to David Haigh, Chief Executive, Brand Finance.

Emirates' brand platform 'Hello Tomorrow' connects people and cultures by creating relevant and meaningful experiences that are shaping our world. It is an intrinsic part of airline's aspirations to evolve into a global lifestyle brand - not just offer a way to connect people from one point to another, but work as a catalyst to connect people's hopes, dreams and aspirations. A global audience now has diverse ways of engaging with Emirates through iconic sponsorships such as the FIFA World Cup and Formula One, to its many social media platforms. Emirates is now one of the most engaged brands on Facebook not only in the airline category but amongst other lifestyle brands, with posts about its fleet, products, sponsorships and crew. Emirates is also the world's largest airline on LinkedIn, and has an active presence on YouTube, Instagram and Google Plus.

With a fleet of 212 aircraft, Emirates operates services to 141 destinations in 80 countries from Dubai. With a multi-cultural work force which is made up of more than 48,000 people from over 160 different nations, Emirates embodies the spirit of the brand and its evolution is embedded internally with an outlook that celebrates the new, the pioneering and innovative in the world - empowering people to explore, engage and live.

Brand Finance, the world's leading brand valuation consultancy, releases its annual Brand Finance Global 500 report which assesses the dollar value of the reputation, image and intellectual property of the world's foremost brands across diverse categories. The ranking also considers in its valuation, a number of relevant attributes such as emotional connection, financial performance and sustainability, economic growth rates, revenue forecasts and analysts' insights, amongst others. - Emirates News Agency, WAM

Saudi Arabia?s national carrier Saudia is planning to order more aircraft, its Director General Khalid bin Abdullah Al Molhem said Wednesday Addressing the media in Dubai on Wednesday, Al Molhem said the company is ?looking to purchase additional aircraft for the local market? which is being heavily under-served.

Saudi carrier decided to revamp its aging fleet six years ago and has ordered 90 aircraft over the period. So far it has received 70 aircraft. It didn?t add any new aircraft in its fleet for around 20 years.

?We didn?t buy new aircraft for 20 years and decided to upgrade fleet six years ago as was too inexpensive and we also wanted to bring in aircraft which suit our needs. We have phased out a number of aircraft from our fleet over the last few years,? he added.

He didn?t elaborate on the number of aircraft company is looking to buy. Al Molhem said Saudi Arabia?s domestic aviation market is under-served as the kingdom is facing 1.5 million passenger seats shortage annually.

He shrugged off any impact on Saudia by the two to be launched this year in the kingdom.

?We?ve allocated 50 aircraft for the domestic operations where we?ve one of the world?s highest seat of around 94 per cent. These two new carriers will allow us to expand our international operations and serve the existing foreign routes better.?

Commenting on financing, Al Molhem said the carrier signed a loan deal of SR7 billion with banks and is also considering some innovative financing methods for future needs. He refused to disclose what financing methods the company is studying.

He told media that the carrier is also in the process of arranging an IPO of its groundhandling unit.

Khalid bin Abdullah Al Molhem is currently in Dubai to market Saudia?s 50 years in operation.

Al Molhem also announced opening a bigger 90,000 sqft office in Dubai. ?We?ve optimistic view about the industry?s growth in the region and that?s why we are growing operations in Dubai and other parts of the world. We?ve just opened a bigger and sophisticated office in Dubai to better cater the country,? he added.

Saudi (Saudia) celebrates the golden jubilee of its operation to Dubai today (Feb. 19).

A ceremony will be held at Westin Seyahi Beach Resort to mark the occasion under the patronage of Prince Fahd Bin Abdullah, President of Authority of Civil Aviation and Chairman of Saudia.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, President of Civil Aviation in Dubai and Chairman of Emirates Airlines; Eng. Khaled Al-Molhem, Director General of Saudia; and senior Saudia executives as well as industry experts will attend the event.

A variety of programs has been lined up for the ceremony, including a speech by Eng. Al-Molhem, the screening of a documentary film on the airline?s history and achievements, and an exhibition highlighting Saudia?s development, services at sales offices, electronic and self-services, and progress of Dubai services during the past 50 years.

Prince Fahd Bin Abdullah will open Saudia?s new office in Dubai, which was designed to cope with the airline?s marvelous development in services. The new office is located in Vision Tower, which overlooks Burj Khalifa, Dubai Governorate and Sheikh Zayed Street. Its design reflects Saudia?s new identity and image.

The new Dubai office houses the office of the general manager for Middle East and Gulf, administrative offices, training halls, finance department, departments and prayer hall that provide a suitable atmosphere for extending services.

The Kingdom?s national flag carrier launched its first flight to Dubai from Dhahran in March 1963, carrying just 48 passengers. It opened a new era in its international operations as the number of Saudia flights to Dubai increased to 74 weekly. These flights are operated from the Kingdom?s major cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Madinah. Total number of passengers carried by Saudia annually between the two countries rose to more than 500,000.

Emirates Airline yesterday announced that it is launching a daily service to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Terminal 5 from August 5, 2014.

The service will be operated by a Boeing 777-200LR powered by GE90 engines.

Chicago will become the airline's ninth gateway in the USA, following soon after the commencement of its services to Boston, Massachusetts on March 10, 2014.

Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline, said: "Chicago has long been a destination in the United States which Emirates has wished to serve. Like Dubai, Chicago is a major global trade and transportation hub with great cultural diversity that is an economic engine for its region. We welcome the chance to establish a non-stop trade bridge between these two great cities and, via our Dubai hub, to more efficiently link Chicago area passengers and shippers with our international network beyond Dubai to 125 destinations spanning six continents. This is good news for trade and tourism for both cities, and jobs that rely on both, as well as for consumers who will benefit from greater competitive choice.?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said: "Chicago welcomes Emirates, one of the world's largest international airlines, to our city.?

He said: "Air transport links are critical for trade and tourism, and Emirates' non-stop daily flights to Dubai will only add to our global connectivity and further our goal to host 55 million visitors by 2020, in turn generating jobs not only at the airport but across Chicago's travel and hospitality industries.?

Chicago is also a significant convention hub, and home to many of the US's largest companies including Boeing, which is a very important supplier partner of Emirates. Emirates is the largest operator of Boeing 777 aircraft in the world, with a fleet of 122 passenger and 10 freighter Boeing 777s currently in its fleet, and is a launch customer of Boeing's new 777X having placed the largest single order in commercial aviation history for 150 of them valued at US$76 billion in November 2013.

The new service will operate as flight EK 235 from Dubai International Airport at 09:45 hours arriving into Chicago at 15:25. The return flight, EK 236 will depart O'Hare at 20:35 hours, arriving into Dubai at 19:10 the next day.

On board, passengers will be able to enjoy Emirates' renowned inflight service from our multi-lingual crew from over 120 countries, gourmet on-board dining and multi-award winning inflight entertainment system, ice Digital Widescreen, featuring up to 1,600 channels of movies, TV programmes, music and podcasts, in a three cabin configuration featuring 8 private First Class suites, 42 Business Class suites and 216 Economy Class seats.

In addition to carrying passengers, the aircraft will also carry up to 17 tonnes of cargo to further increase the trade opportunities between Dubai and Chicago. Emirates already operates a twice weekly dedicated freighter service to Chicago which in 2013 carried nearly 7,400 tonnes of cargo from the city and over 4,200 into the city.

The US and the UAE enjoy strong commercial and political ties. In 2012, US exports to the UAE reached a record high of US$22.5 billion, an increase of 42% over 2011 and higher than any other country in the Middle East. A significant portion of those exports to the UAE came in the form of Boeing aircraft for Emirates. In 2012, Illinois exported US$364 million of goods and services to the UAE, including vehicles and construction equipment supporting a workforce of nearly 3,500 in 

Emirates SkyCargo is gearing up for the move of its freighter fleet to Al Maktoum Airport (DWC) by signing a trucking contract with Dubai-based Allied Transport LLC, an established land transportation services provider within the United Arab Emirates and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The five year contract will see Allied Transport provide road feeder services between Dubai International (DXB) and DWC for Emirates SkyCargo, including the operation of up to a fleet of 45 trucks in the first year.

Starting May 1, Emirates SkyCargo freighters will call Al Maktoum International Airport their new home. The freighters will be handled exclusively from DWC while passenger fleet belly cargo operations will continue to operate from Dubai International Airport. Therefore, the trucking of cargo between the two airports will form a critical part of the new Emirates SkyCargo operation. Dedicated road feeder services between DXB and DWC for connecting cargo will be introduced to maintain the minimum possible transshipment times between freighters and the passenger fleet.

For this year Emirates SkyCargo expects to have approximately ten trucks per hour running between DWC and DXB during peak times, with frequency to increase over the coming years. The cargo will be moved via purpose-built truck docks at both airports to achieve quick turn-around.

"Emirates SkyCargo's terminal at DWC, the new home of our entire freighter fleet, is a global cargo terminal with world-class facilities. The development progress is well on track and we are ready to start operations soon," said Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo.

"Our freighter fleet today already accounts for 35% of Emirates SkyCargo's revenue and the new terminal is at the core of our growth plans. Looking at the bigger picture, the new infrastructure also has a positive multiplier impact on Dubai as it will create a cargo corridor that connects the Jebel Ali port, DWC and Dubai International Airport," he added.

Upon full completion, the terminal will be equipped to handle 700,000 tonnes per year, with the potential for further expansion to reach 1 million tonnes. The new Emirates SkyCargo terminal will feature state-of-the-art technology, including a fully automated material handling system which is one of the world's first to have an automated Unit Load Device (ULD) that enables quick transfer of 6 ULDs simultaneously. In addition, an automated pallet handling system, advanced storage system, offices, workstation areas, modern communication and security systems, canteens, and other amenities will be installed. The terminal infrastructure also includes 46 truck docks and 80 truck parking spaces, in addition to 12 aircraft stands directly in front of the terminal.

Emirates SkyCargo currently operates a freighter fleet of 12 aircraft - 10 Boeing 777Fs and two Boeing 747-400ERFs - all of which will move to Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport. Operations at the new cargo terminal will commence with 250 staff, which will be increased to 500 staff gradually. ? Emirates News Agency, WAM 

Emirates is expanding its operations into South America following the signing of a cargo and passenger agreement with Ecuadorian national airline TAME.

"We have reached an agreement to work together to move passengers and cargo in those airports where both companies airplanes meet,? said Franciso Rivadeneira, Ecuador's Minister of International Trade.

TAME is owned by the Ecuadorian government.

Under the agreement, Emirates will be able to transfer passenger and cargo to TAME from New York in the United States and Sao Paulo in Brazil.

"It's more like a code-share agreement concerning passenger and cargo operations,? Rivadeneira said.

Rivadeneira was speaking to the media on Monday at the Gulfood exhibition in Dubai.

"Emirates holds discussions with different organisations including airlines on a regular basis. Any firm agreements which result from those discussions will be communicated when appropriate,? said an Emirates spokesperson.

There are currently no direct passenger flights connecting Ecuador and the United Arab Emirates, with the aviation links being traditionally underserved between the Middle East and South America.

Emirates also fly to Buenos Aires in Argentina and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in South America.

Etihad Airways recently signed code-share agreements with Spain's Air Europa and United States-based JetBlue to connect to destinations in Latin and South America.

Rivadeneira said the New York and Sao Paulo connections could be followed up with Buenos Aires, Chicago and Los Angeles, where the two airlines also fly to.

However, he did not say when the agreement will come into effect but that the long-term objective is to introduce direct flights between the new countries.

"For that we still need to work on demand,? he said.

Prior to speaking with the media, Rivadeneira met with representatives of supermarket chain Carrefour. Rivadeneira said that he is hopeful of exporting Ecuadorian products to the region through a distribution deal with the supermarket.

Rivadeneira is also expected to meet with DP World chairman Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem to discuss the company's possible involvement in the development of a new deep sea port in Guayaquil, Ecuador,

Rivadeneira said the deep-sea port project will need US$6 to US$8 billion (Dh22 to Dh29 billion) of investment.

In recent years Ecuador has shifted its focus to the Gulf Arab countries as it looks to find new key exports markets in the fall out of the global financial crisis that hampered traditional markets in North America and Europe.

Ecuador's regional embassy is in Qatar, however, Rivadeneira said that are steps underway to open a consulate in Dubai.

"We don't have a date at the moment... but we think we must absolutely do that in the near future,? he said. ? Emirates News Agency, WAM

Royal Jet, the Abu Dhabi government-owned charter operator, will announce the US$700 million (Dh2.57 billion) purchase of seven new aircraft in the second quarter, its top executive said on Tuesday.

The company announced the tender at last year's Dubai Airshow to replace six Boeing business jets, two short-range Gulfstream G350s and a medium range Learjet 60.

Shane O'Hare, Royal Jet President and Chief Executive Officer, told the media at the Abu Dhabi Air Expo that a decision on seven new aircraft to replace its existing Boeing business jets will be announced in the coming months.

Royal Jet is talking with Bombardier, Boeing and Airbus to replace its long-range fleet. O'Hare said the charter operator will not opt for a mixed long-range fleet and said that first delivery for the long-range replacements will start in 2016, which means an order must be announced this year.

The company is currently considering bank and leasing operations to finance the new fleet, but O'Hare said it is favouring bank financing.

All aircraft, including the short to medium range, will be replaced by 2020.

O'Hare said he is happy with the Bombardier C-Series test flights but that the operator has not committed to any aircraft.

Royal Jet is also investing in 10,000 square metres of building space at Al Bateen Executive Airport that will include hanger space, spare parts area and head office operations.

"That will enable us to maintain our own aircraft and in the future expand that to third party maintenance, repair and overhaul,? O'Hare said

A new helicopter maintenance and spare parts company, AWAS, has been formed in a partnership between Abu Dhabi Aviation and AgustaWestland, the helicopter design and manufacturing company.

The announcement came during the first day of Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2014, which is being held from February 25th to 27th.

"The new company, which is operating from the Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone (ADAFZ), is the result of a strategic partnership between Abu Dhabi Aviation company and AgustaWestland company," said Nadder Ahmed Al-Hamadi , Abu Dhabi aviation CEO.

The new partnership will provide expertise, skills and technical and logistic support in the helicopter field, in addition to a high maintenance level for more than 150 AgustaWestland Helicopters in the Gulf and Middle East region.

"AWAS's birth will enhance Abu Dhabi aviation capabilities and constitutes a leap forward in the quality of services provided to its customers. Taking into consideration that AgustaWestland helicopters are widely used by Abu Dhabi Police, Dubai Police Air Wing, Oman Police, Lebanese Air Force, Royal Jordanian Air Force, and ARAMCO of Saudi Arabia, we will not only be able to expand the coverage of services to our customers, but also attract new customers," Nadder added.

Mark Thistlethwaite, CEO, AWAS, said that AWAS brings added value to the UAE in terms of aircraft technical knowledge transfer, and will pave the way to a long term commercial partnership with the UAE aviation sector.

"Through its presence in the Abu Dhabi Airport Free zone, AWAS will be able to respond quickly and immediately to our customers' requirements for spares, and also provide helicopter inspection, repair, modifications and overhaul facilities in the UAE, without having to move the aircraft to its manufacturing companies in Europe or the USA," Mark added.

The company, which will be providing its services 24 hours a day, will also cater for the needs of the region's helicopters outside UAE.

Mohammed Al-Romaithi, Abu Dhabi Aviation's project officer for AWAS said that the company's formation will be a fundamental factor in facilitating the flow of aircraft manufacturing knowledge, as well as providing a platform to train the national cadre, creating jobs for UAE citizens, and building the necessary skills in aircraft technology and engineering. ? Emirates News Agency, WAM 

Visitors to The Dubai Mall can now connect with aviation like never before, thanks to Emirates airline.

H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Emirates Group yesterday officially launched the newest Emirates Official Store and the Emirates A380 Experience - the Middle East's first public A380 flight simulator - at the shopping destination.

Located at The Village at The Dubai Mall, the Emirates A380 Experience introduces visitors to the flight deck of the world's most modern aircraft, allowing guests to experience the thrill of landing and taking off from 12 of the world's busiest airports in different weather conditions. Adding to the excitement, guests will be scored on how well they navigate the aircraft, allowing them to compete against family and friends. This is the airline's second such project, having launched the Emirates Aviation Experience in London last year to a strong public reception.

"Emirates is the largest operator of the A380 with 47 in our fleet, and it is an immensely popular aircraft with our customers. We are delighted to present aviation enthusiasts with another unique perspective to the world's largest passenger aircraft with the Emirates A380 Experience. Based on what we've seen in the UK, we believe the Emirates A380 Experience will be a very popular activity for mall visitors as well as for team building activity from corporate groups," said Sheikh Ahmed.

"By bringing the Emirates A380 Experience and the Emirates Official Store to Dubai Mall, we aim to connect with a broader audience in a high-traffic lifestyle environment and provide them with a piece of the Emirates brand experience regardless of when they next travel," he added.

Guests of the Emirates A380 Experience will have the chance to fly past Paris' historic sites, soar over the canals of Amsterdam, and take in Hong Kong's unmistakable cityscape, all on high-definition screens.

Just steps away, the newest Emirates Official Store carries the airline's full range of merchandise - everything from model aircraft and clothing to the Little Travellers collection and travel accessories and will stock the full line of football shirts from the airline's global sponsorships. The store is the airline's 10th retail location in the region, and its first outlet in a mall.

Starting as a line of corporate giveaways, Emirates has progressively developed its range of branded merchandise eventually launching its first Emirates Official Store in 1996. Emirates merchandise has grown in both range and popularity, and can be found being used, worn, collected and displayed by its customers and fans around the world. With hundreds of items on offer, shoppers at The Dubai Mall can take home a piece of Emirates as a memento or gifts for their loved ones.

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Fiji Airways yesterday announced a new and far reaching interline agreement allowing reciprocal sales from and to 12 cities in Europe, 17 cities in the Middle East, 5 cities in Africa, 5 cities in North America, 29 cities in Asia and 3 cities in Australia to and from Fiji.

The agreement comes into place with immediate effect and is the starting point of further negotiations between the two airlines.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: "Fiji is a great holiday market and we are happy to offer Fiji as an additional destination in our global network. The agreement also connects the outer South Pacific Islands to our network which creates more opportunities for our worldwide sales force. " Stefan Pichler, Managing Director and CEO of Fiji Airways commented: "We are proud to be part of the global Etihad Airways network and this partnership will help us to put Fiji on the map in countries where we had no presence before. Etihad Airways will help us to reach out for new customers and to diversify tourism streams for our country. It is definitely a major step for Fiji Airways." The Fijian Attorney-General and Minister for Tourism, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has hailed the agreement as an exciting new development for Fiji Airways and the entire Fijian economy. "This opens up a whole new lucrative market for our tourism industry, enabling us to attract affluent visitors from Abu Dhabi - Etihad's base - the other Gulf States, the rest of the Middle East and beyond," he said.

The Minister added that the Fijian Government hopes that this agreement will strengthen both Fiji's national airline and the national economy for the long-term benefit of every Fijian.

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has announced its strongest ever passenger and cargo volumes for a first quarter, together with US$1.4 billion in total revenues during the three-month period, marking a year-on-year increase of 27 percent.

A total of 3.2 million passengers travelled with Etihad Airways during the first quarter of 2014, over 14 percent higher than the 2.8 million passengers from the same period last year. The growth rate is more than double a recent estimate from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that passenger demand will increase 5.8 percent this year on a global basis.

Etihad Cargo also outperformed the global market, carrying 127,821 tonnes of freight and mail in the first quarter. This marks a year-on-year increase of 26 percent, almost seven times higher than IATA's prediction that the international cargo market will grow by four percent in 2014. The airline's cargo revenue also increased by 26 percent to US$243 million, placing Etihad Cargo on track to become a billion dollar business in 2014.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said, "Although the global airline industry has faced challenges such as higher-than-expected fuel prices and fierce competition in key international markets during the first quarter of 2014, we have continued to outperform the passenger and cargo markets, and raise the bar even further for Etihad Airways.

"Our strong performance highlights the continued success of Etihad Airways' strategic master plan, which focuses on the three fundamental pillars of organic network growth, code-share partnerships and minority equity investments in other airlines around the world. This unique strategy, and the investments we have made in product, service and infrastructure, means that Etihad Airways is positioned strongly for top-line growth and bottom-line delivery in 2014." Etihad Airways' volumes were boosted by the fast-paced growth of its international route network, with 95 destinations operational by the end of Q1 2014, an increase of six compared to the same period in 2013. Network highlights in the first quarter included the start of a daily service to Medina, Etihad Airways' fourth destination in Saudi Arabia, while frequencies increased on six existing routes, including New York in the US, Munich in Germany, Colombo in Sri Lanka, and Chengdu in China. The airline will commence services to eight more destinations over the remainder of 2014, increasing its global route network to 103 by the end of the year.

Organic growth was supported by the development of code-share and equity partnerships, which delivered 678,000 passengers onto Etihad Airways flights in the first quarter of 2014, 25 percent higher than the same period last year. Revenue from code-share and equity partners rose 23 per cent to US$223 million, representing 22 per cent of total revenue in the quarter.

During this period, new code-share agreements were signed with Air Europa and JetBlue, while an existing code-share with airBaltic was expanded. Etihad Airways also obtained regulatory approval to acquire a 49 percent share of Air Serbia.

To accommodate the double-digit growth in passenger volumes, Etihad Airways' fleet expanded to 95 aircraft in the first quarter of 2014, marking an increase of 30 percent in the fleet size over the same period last year, while the airline's passenger carrying capacity, measured in Available Seat Kilometres (ASK), increased by 21 percent year-on-year to 19.2 billion.

A number of factors contributed to the rapid growth of Etihad Cargo's revenues in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2013, including stellar performances in the India (+32 per cent) and China (+14 per cent) markets, the launch of new routes to Brazil and Vietnam, and heavy demand for charter solutions. Cargo volumes were also strengthened by the launch of a joint freighter service with DHL, serving Pakistan and the GCC markets out of Abu Dhabi.

At the close of the first quarter, Etihad Airways employed 18,543 employees, an increase of 69 percent year-on-year. Part of this significant increase can be attributed to Etihad Airways' acquisition of Abu Dhabi Airport Services (ADAS), Abu Dhabi In-Flight Catering (ADIFC) and Abu Dhabi Cargo Company (ADCC) in 2013. Within the core airline, 1,516 employees are UAE nationals, 18 percent more than the same period last year. The Etihad Airways Emiratisation programme includes schemes for cadet pilots, engineers and graduate managers.

Etihad Airways also won four awards in the first quarter, including the Airline Market Leadership Award at Air Transport World magazine's 40th Annual Airline Industry Achievement Awards. ? Emirates News Agency, WAM