United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier, Etihad Airways will add another daily scheduled flight on the Abu Dhabi – Cairo route as of March 27, 2016. This increase in capacity will see the airline flying four times a day on the city pair.
The increase in capacity follows a major network and frequency growth in 2015 when the Gulf carrier increased frequencies to the likes of Bangkok, Delhi, Melbourne and Tehran and announced six new routes to Kolkata, Madrid, Edinburgh, Entebbe, Hong Kong, Dar es Salaam and a direct service to Brisbane.
Just one month into 2106 and capacity has already been increased on Etihad's route to Rome, and there will be an increase in capacity on its service to Perth from June 1, 2016 as a Boeing 787 Dreamliner replaces the current Airbus A330-200 deployed on the route, increasing seat capacity by 14 per cent.
The successes of the airline has had a direct effect on the growth of their hub airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport. Etihad Airlines accounted for almost three quarters of traffic through the terminals in 2015, with the airport reporting a 17.2% increase in passenger numbers to 23 million. Abu Dhabi International Airport broke the two million passengers a month mark four times in the calendar year, with traffic hitting its peak in August with 2.5 million passengers.
Cairo Airport is the second busiest airport in Africa, with construction in place on Terminal 2, in order to bring in another eight million passengers a year. Works are hoping to be completed by the second half of 2016.
Increased capacity will help to meet the growing demand of the Abu Dhabi-Cairo route, building on the strong commercial ties between the cities. Industries in both cities are expanding, and Egypt is one of the fastest growing Arab countries. In Cairo, their population of 7.8 million is filled with a pool of young and talented developers in a rapidly changing tech industry. The business culture in the city is extremely forward moving, with opportunities to penetrate an already existing market which has a lack of strong competition.
“Etihad Airways is focused on offering guests more choice. The introduction of a fourth daily flight to Cairo demonstrates our commitment to a market that has shown strong growth in passenger and freight traffic since the route was launched almost 12 years ago,” said Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer, Etihad Airways.
“Attracting both commercial and leisure business, the additional flights linking Cairo and Abu Dhabi with connections beyond will help cater for the growing demand on one of our most popular North African and global routes,” he added.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is renowned for its supportive business climate and successful entrepreneurial enterprises, with ample business opportunities in Dubai as well as Abu Dhabi. Since the formation of the UAE, GDP has grown 200 fold and a quarter of Fortune 500 companies now have regional headquarters there. Forty nine percent of GDP is now non-oil based, with industries such as aviation, defence, manufacturing and renewable energy growing significantly.
Etihad currently competes directly with EgyptAir on the Abu Dhabi – Cairo route and indirectly with its Gulf rivals for traffic to/from the UAE and for transfer passengers to other international markets. According to MIDT data, an estimated 1,100 plus passengers a day fly on this route, while the wider demand between Cairo and the UAE is around 3,800 daily passengers, based on data for the first six months of 2015.
For the first six months of 2015, Etihad held a 20.6 per cent share of the segment demand between the UAE and the Egyptian capital with estimated average loads of around 80 per cent. EgyptAir holds the largest share of this demand (35.9 per cent) ahead of Emirates Airline (32.7 per cent).
Etihad has boosted its own traffic between Abu Dhabi and Cairo by 65.3 per cent since the start of this decade, an average annual rise of 16.3 per cent up until 2014. A capacity growth meant that estimated passenger levels during the first half of 2015 were up 71.4 per cent versus the previous year with preliminary year-end data suggesting record traffic levels of more than 400,000 annual passengers for the airline on this route.