Etihad Airways says no passenger decline despite global gloom

Friday, 12 August 2011 00:38 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SYDNEY (Reuters): Etihad Airways says it has seen no softening in passenger numbers since Europe’s debt crisis and U.S. economic problems hit global markets and expects to break even this year.

Etihad Chief Executive James Hogan also said he was keen to invest in other airlines but would be wary about doing any deals without being able to take management control.

Hogan said Etihad still expected to break even in 2011 and said he had seen no evidence fewer people were flying in recent weeks as fears about another global economic downturn sparked a sharemarket rout.“We have not seen a slowdown,” Hogan told Reuters on a visit to Sydney.

“Our European traffic is strong ... our traffic out of markets like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia coming up the Gulf is very strong as is our North American business.”

Hogan said the airline was often approached by airlines looking for an investor but said he would only be interested if Etihad could take management control.

He declined to comment on reports earlier this year Etihad had expressed interest in buying Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic.

“We run the ruler over a number of businesses,” Hogan said after giving a presentation to Australia’s Lowy Institute.

Unrest in the Middle East has impacted regional carriers with rival Emiratessaying earlier this year its revenue could be hit by 3 to 5 percent.

Etihad has a fleet of 57 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and 100 aircraft on order, including 10 Airbus A380s.

In July, Etihad posted a 28 percent rise in revenue to $1.72 billion for six months to June 30. Passenger numbers rose 14 percent to 3.8 million.