Saturday, November 5, 2011

Emirates X Etihad

Although most people have only heard of Emirates, the popular airline based in Dubai, there is yet another very important carrier in the country that has grown tremendously over the past years: Etihad Airways, the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates. 

It’s understandable that so many people are familiar with Emirates and not so much with Etihad. After all, Emirates has been around for 26 years, ever since it operated its first flight out of Dubai back on October 25, 1985. Etihad, on the other hand, is a much younger airline. The Abu Dhabi based airline commenced operations just eight years back, on November 5, 2003, exactly eight years ago (Happy Birthday Etihad!).

Despite the age difference, Etihad soon presented itself as strong competition. Emirates is irrefutably the largest airline in the Middle East, operating over 2,400 passenger flights per week, to more than 100 cities in 60 plus countries across the world. But Etihad’s numbers are also very impressive: it already owns 63 aircraft and operates 86 passenger and cargo destinations to over 40 countries to date.

Was this massive growth possible because of protectionism? Well, the airlines certainly deny this. Although Emirates belongs to the Dubai government and Etihad belongs to the Abu Dhabi government, they both state that they are treated as a wholly independent business entity, susceptible to the global economic reality and challenges.

Whatever the case, the fact is Emirates has recorded an annual profit in every year since its third in operation. This past week, it reported half year profits of AED 826 million. Etihad is still struggling to break even, but by the looks of it, the airline should be able to celebrate this achievement very soon. 

I had the opportunity to try out both airlines and I can say they are truly excellent – especially when compared to the Brazilian and American carriers I used to fly with before. Great to board and look forward to great service and food without the ridiculous additionals ($$$$$) charged by so many airlines out there today. No wonder Emirates and Etihad have won so many awards!

The one thing missing for Etihad to be number one on my list? The long awaited flight to Brazil! Emirates already flies non-stop to São Paulo and will launch a daily flight to Rio de Janeiro on January 3, 2012.

C’mon Etihad! What are you waiting for?!?!?

1 comment:

  1. It would be so good a non stop flight from Rio to Abu Dhabi ... I hope it happens very soon !