Etihad puts Abu Dhabi on US travellers’ map

Etihad Airways has set its sights on drawing a large crowd of corporate and leisure travellers from the US to Abu Dhabi since launching its non-stop daily service between New York in October.

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By  Gemma Greenwood Published  December 18, 2006

Etihad Airways has set its sights on drawing a large crowd of corporate and leisure travellers from the US to Abu Dhabi since launching its non-stop daily service between New York in October. “There is a large Middle East community in and around New York and certainly in Detroit. We are looking to get a strong feed [of traffic] out of there in terms of VFR (visiting friends and relatives) business,” explained the carrier’s Kirk Albrow, regional GM – Europe & Americas. “US interest in this region is growing, and we also get a lot of VFR traffic travelling through Abu Dhabi and onto the Indian SubContinent.” Albrow said new properties such as the Shangri-La and InterContinental, which are set to open their doors this year, as well as the creation of new attractions like the Guggenheim Museum, to be built in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island, would pull in more leisure business and help put Abu Dhabi on the map. “Everyone knows Dubai and certainly the well informed US traveller is visiting this area. It’s our job to promote it even more so that Abu Dhabi, like Dubai, is a stand alone destination,” he added. New York is Etihad’s 35th destination and also represents huge potential for inbound business travel, facilitated by the unique facilities on board the A340-500 aircraft operating the route, including 12 Diamond class seats that rotate full circle. “The gutsy part of the business is the corporates,” acknowledged Albrow. “There is a lot of business between the two cities; financial institutions, oil and gas – with feed out of Houston – property and jewellery.” He said load factors for the route from launch were 60% in both directions, and would hit the 70% mark in December and January.

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