The President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, has met the European Commission Transport Commissioner, Violeta Bulc, to highlight the benefits which the airline delivers to European consumers, outline the multi-billion euro contribution which it makes to European economies, and reinforce the risks associated with rising protectionist sentiment.
Mr Hogan said aviation was a global industry, not a regional business, and that any moves to impede foreign carrier access and limit competition would not just damage Etihad Airways and its European partners, but would also reverberate throughout the air transport industry, and potentially undermine international confidence in Europe's commitment to global trade and investment.
He said that research conducted by Oxford Economics had verified that in 2014, Etihad Airways' core operations in the European Union contributed a total of US$1 billion to the combined GDP of the 28 EU member nations and supported more than 11,000 jobs. Additionally, the airline's 2014 capital spending on aircraft and other aviation equipment contributed US$2.6 billion to the EU28 GDP, and supported more than 28,100 jobs.
The research also showed that during the past decade, the airline's operations contributed approximately US$6.1 billion to the EU28 GDP, while its capital spending on aircraft and aviation equipment exceeded US$11 billion dollars.
Additional economic benefits were also calculated based on passenger and freight flows as a result of expanded flight connectivity. In 2014, connectivity benefits to the EU28 GDP were estimated at US$1.3 billion, while the amount for the past decade was US$5 billion.
Mr. Hogan said, "Etihad Airways is not just another foreign airline flying to Europe to poach local traffic. We are a sophisticated partner to and investor in Europe for long-term mutual benefit, contributing billions of euros every year to EU and non-EU economies, supporting tens of thousands of jobs and both maintaining and expanding choice for air travellers to and from Europe. Through our own flights, our 21 European codeshare partnerships and our minority investments in five European airlines, we are adding value to Europe in a way that no other foreign airline is.
"In 2014 alone we carried 3.3 million passengers to and from EU economies, connecting 618,000 travellers onto flights by our EU codeshare partners, and accommodating 368,000 of their passengers on our flights.
"We also operate one-stop services between Europe and 19 destinations not served by any EU carriers. And we provide codeshare access to many of these markets for European airlines, including connections to Australia for 11 carriers, five of which ceased operating their own services on these routes prior to us entering the market.
"Etihad Airways is committed to Europe. But growing resistance to us from a handful of protectionist competitors could have unintended consequences well beyond limiting our development. If our growth is curtailed or our investments in airlines are compromised, the real damage will be to Europe in lost jobs, lost flight connectivity, lost investment in local and national economies and lost consumer choice."