Etihad Airways is the national airline of United Arab Emirates, offering air travel within as well as outside the country. It is based in Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE. The airline has a cargo division as well, under the name of Etihad Crystal cargo, which started operations in 2004. The airline has its main base at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Etihad Airways has been honored with over 30 awards since its inauguration in 2003. It holds a four star rating by Skytrax, the UK-based airline consultancy service, as well.
Etihad Airways is run by a Board of Directors, presided over by the HH Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The frequent flier program of the airline is called Etihad Guest. It was started on August 30, 2006 and provides for a web shop for the members of its loyalty program, at a discount. Etihad Airways has entered into partnership agreements with Qantas, Brussels Airlines, Oman Air and Jet Airways. However, it has not joined any of the mega airline alliances. Some of its aircrafts have in-flight telephone services as well.
Etihad Airways was founded in July 2003, by virtue of a royal decree issued by Sheikh Khalifa, the President of UAE. The services of the airline commenced on November 5, 2003, with a ceremonial flight to Al Ain. It launched services to Beirut on November 12, 2008, marking the beginning of its commercial operations. In the same month, the airline set up a subsidiary, by the name of Etihad Holidays. In the months that followed, almost one new route was added to the overall routes, per month.
June 2004 saw Etihad Airways had its first direct flight from the UAE to Geneva. The next year, in October, direct flights to Brussels and Toronto became operational. By June 2006, the airline was serving as many as 30 destinations, within 30 months of it being launched. Since then, the airline has been growing by leaps and bounds. At present, it serves 54 destinations, with Etihad Crystal Cargo covering another 10 destinations. By 2010, Etihad Airways hopes to achieve a target of over 70 destinations.
Besides the domestic services, Etihad Airways maintains an extensive international route network, covering U.S, Canada and Australia, apart from European destinations like Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, U.K, Ireland, Greece, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and Belarus. In Asia, it serves India, China, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Cyprus, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Kazakhstan. The air service caters to Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Africa, and Sudan in the African continent.
Etihad Airways has a fleet of 42 in-service aircrafts, which consist of Airbus A319-100, Airbus A320-200, Airbus A330-200, Airbus A340-500, Airbus A340-600, and Boeing 777-300ER. Apart from that, it has placed orders for as many as 108 aircrafts, including both Airbus and Boeing. Etihad Crystal Cargo Fleet has two aircrafts - Airbus A300-600RF and McDonnell Douglas MD-11F, with three Airbus A330-200F still on order.
Etihad Airways is presently sponsoring UAE sports clubs, like the Abu Dhabi Rugby Union Football Club, the Abu Dhabi International Sailing School and the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC), as well as the Al-Jazira Club. In 2007, the airline announced sponsorship for the Harlequins Rugby Club and Harlequins Rugby League club (UK). It will now be the main sponsor for the two clubs. It will also be the title sponsor for the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, to be held on Yas Island in 2009.