Etihad Airways’ kicked off its inaugural A380 flight Abu Dhabi International Airport to London Heathrow. Eng. Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer of Abu Dhabi Airports, said the addition of the A380 to the roster of aircraft using Abu Dhabi International Airport heralds a new era for Etihad Airways and for Abu Dhabi.

“We are rapidly becoming a global transportation hub that plays an increasingly significant international role, and boosts Abu Dhabi’s economy by bringing corporate, leisure and cargo traffic to the emirate. We are pleased to have developed the infrastructure needed to accommodate this remarkable aircraft and remain committed to further capacity expansion ahead of the expected rise in passenger numbers,” he said.

Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer of Etihad Airways, said: “We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion alongside our partners Abu Dhabi Airports, who have played a significant role in supporting our growth plan. This is the first of 10 scheduled flights on board the A380, with plans to deploy aircraft two and three on the London route as well, which will become an all-superjumbo service with three daily flights. The model will also serve Sydney and New York later in 2015.”

In preparation for the arrival of the world’s biggest commercial airplanes, Abu Dhabi Airports recently renovated its southern runway as part of the Southern Airfield refurbishment programme. The renovation plans were undertaken to upgrade the runway to Code F status, with the addition of 21 aircraft stands, ahead of the scheduled flights of the Airbus A380 and Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft.

Towards the end of the year Etihad won World’s Leading Airline Award for sixth consecutive year. Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has been awarded the highly coveted title of World’s Leading Airline for the sixth straight year at this year’s World Travel Awards, WTA.
In addition to winning the world’s leading airline title, the company also scooped up a further two awards, World’s Leading First Class and the World’s Leading Cabin Crew.

World Travel Awards was established in 1993 to acknowledge excellence across the tourism industry and is widely recognised as a hallmark of ultimate quality. The awards are decided through a global vote by more than 500,000 travel professionals and high-end tourism consumers from 171 countries, with the ceremony held this year on the paradise island of Anguilla in the Caribbean.

James Hogan, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said, “Winning three of the industry’s highest accolades is a demonstration of our commitment to be best in class in every market in which we operate.

“Etihad Airways strives for continuous innovation and improvement in product and service, because we know that is how we will maintain our industry leadership and create the best possible travel experience for our guests.”
Etihad Airways’ success at the 2014 World Travel Awards reflects the achievements of a remarkable year for the airline.Graham E. Cooke, World Travel Awards Founder and President, said, “For over 20 years, the World Travel Awards has been rewarding brands which push the boundaries of industry excellence. Etihad Airways has now taken home the World’s Leading Airline award for six years in a row – a tremendous achievement. The airline’s strategy of organic growth, codeshare partnerships and minority equity stakes coupled with exceptional customer service, has delivered outstanding results and rising passenger growth.”

–KT