The addition of an A330F takes its Airbus freighter fleet to five, joining five Boeing 777 freighters that collectively serve 42 destinations worldwide.
The delivery follows 12 months of sustained growth for the carrier, which launched 10 new freighter routes and carried 602,026 tonnes of cargo – a moderate increase on 2015.
This growth was highlighted by James Hogan, Etihad Aviation Group President and Chief Executive Officer, as he delivered the welcome address on the opening day of the IATA World Cargo Symposium (WCS) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. WCS runs until March 16.
“Etihad Cargo is a US $1 billion business, which makes it one of the world’s most successful air cargo operations,” he said, noting that it had become the fastest growing division of Etihad Airways since it was founded in 2004, a year after the airline itself.
Mr Hogan acknowledged the uncertain global outlook as factors such as capacity outpacing demand and China’s transition to a service industry continued to impact the industry. He said that Etihad Cargo was well positioned to maximise opportunities in 2017 thanks largely to the company’s investment in partnerships.
“The Etihad Aviation Group’s seven equity partner airlines form the world’s sixth largest cargo group and wider partnerships are playing an increasing role in our business. We are working with Avianca to extend our reach in the important market of South America; with AirBridge Cargo in the US, Middle East and Moscow for the oil and gas industry; while our Preferred Handling Partner programme builds strong partnerships and ensures consistent quality and service across the Etihad Cargo network.”
Mr Hogan also recognised the role Abu Dhabi and the Gulf region played in the global economy, and how its geocentricity put it in the perfect position to connect mature, expanding and emerging markets via Etihad’s Abu Dhabi home. He pointed out that, for this reason, several major industry players including FedEx, UPS and DHL had strong Gulf hubs to achieve their business goals.
Etihad Cargo operates to 124 destinations from its Abu Dhabi hub with a mix of freighter and belly capacity.