Etihad Cargo has made good on its plans for expansion by taking delivery of a new 777F, the 11th freighter in its fleet. The aircraft will enter service today.
At last year’s Dubai Air Show, the carrier announced that it would take delivery of two additional freighters this year. The two are part of the US$67 billion fleet order that was placed in 2013 for 199 aircraft. These two new freighters are valued at US$637 million at list prices. The second freighter is due to arrive in Abu Dhabi sometime this month.
Both new aircraft will come equipped with nine seats allowing Etihad Cargo to carry additional grooms as part of its Sky Stables program, which supports high value equine movement. They will be the first aircraft in the Etihad Cargo fleet to be equipped in this way. Sky Stables is supervised by managers, supported by handling teams both in the air and on the ground, with horses currently being moved to destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas.
“The additional freighter gives us the opportunity to expand our specialist cargo services and grow our market share,” said Kevin Knight, chief strategy and planning officer for Etihad. “Over the last year, we have been expanding into South America, Africa and Asia and the new aircraft will enhance capacity and enable us to increase frequency across our scheduled network, but importantly also increase our charter opportunities to growth areas of the world.”
During 2015, Etihad Cargo enhanced its global reach by offering bellyhold capacity on Etihad Airways’ six new passenger destinations to several cities, including Edinburgh, Madrid and Kolkatta. The airline already operates scheduled cargo services to freighter-only destinations that include Hahn, San Juan, Bogota, Guangzhou, Dakar, Douala, Eldoret, Hanoi, Houston, Nouakchott, Sharjah and Tbilisi.
In its existing fleet, Etihad Cargo currently operates three 777Fs, three 747s and four A330s. The cargo division of the national airline carrier of the UAE currently serves 14 freighter-only destinations worldwide from its Abu Dhabi hub and has freighter capacity on Etihad Airways’ fleet of more than 100 passenger aircraft.
The Etihad Cargo division generates over US$1 billion in revenue annually and reported strong cargo volumes for 2015, with 592,090 tonnes of freight and mail flown in total, a 4 percent increase over 2014’s figures. The cargo division also accounted for 88 per cent of cargo imports, exports and transfers at Abu Dhabi International Airport.