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Etihad weighs options to buy directly from planemakers  

Etihad Airways CEO Antonoaldo Neves (centre) said that he is 'big believer in fleet flexibility' and does not like to lock in big orders Reuters/Regis Duvignau
Etihad Airways CEO Antonoaldo Neves (centre) said that he is 'big believer in fleet flexibility' and does not like to lock in big orders

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways is exploring the option of buying a limited number of new aircraft directly from Airbus and Boeing, utilising the available delivery slots that have been canceled or rescheduled by other airlines.

However, the state-backed airline’s CEO Antonoaldo Neves has no plans to place a “large order”, Reuters reported.

“I’m a big believer in fleet flexibility. I don’t like to lock in big orders,” he said.

Over the next five years, Etihad plans to almost double its fleet to 150.

Etihad Airways in February told staff that it made a profit last year, helped by “milestone” revenues of $5.5 billion, and is expecting a “remarkable” performance in 2024, AGBI reported. 

In an internal memo sent on January 25, the airline said that passenger numbers rose to 14 million “a 40 percent increase on 2022 passenger numbers and above the forecast 13 million. Notably, inbound passengers to Abu Dhabi rose 30 percent to over 1 million.”

Neves, who was appointed to succeed Tony Douglas in October 2022, has forecast that Etihad will return to “peak 2017 passenger numbers” of 18.6 million by late 2024 or early 2025.

The carrier increased its fleet by 16 to around 80 passenger aircraft in 2023. 

Bloomberg reported that ADQ, the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund, is exploring the possibility of listing Etihad Airways, potentially making it the first publicly traded airline in the GCC.

The comments were made as the four-day annual Arabian Travel Market, the region’s biggest travel and hospitality exhibition, opened in Dubai on Monday.

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