Etihad Cargo has taken delivery of a new Boeing 777 freighter which will enable the freight arm of Etihad Airways to continue its expansion plans into 2016.
The aircraft becomes the 11th freighter in the fleet and will enter commercial service on 1st March 2016.
Etihad Cargo announced it would take delivery of the two additional aircraft at the Dubai Air Show last year, and they form part of the US$67 billion fleet order that was made in 2013 for 199 aircraft. The two additional freighter aircraft are valued at US$637 million at list prices and the second freighter is expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi in March.
Both new aircraft will come equipped with nine seats allowing Etihad Cargo to carry additional grooms as part of its Sky Stables programme, 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 dedicated 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.
Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer for Etihad Airways, said: “The additional freighter gives us the opportunity to expand our specialist cargo services and grow our market share. 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 cities including Edinburgh, Madrid and Kolkatta. The airline already operates scheduled cargo services to the following 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 Boeing 777Fs, three Boeing 747s and four Airbus 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 over 100 passenger aircraft.
“Since its entry into service seven years ago, the 777 Freighter has been increasingly recognized as the world’s largest and most capable twin-engine freighter,” said Marty Bentrott, senior vice president for Sales, Middle East, Russia and Central Asia, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We are proud to have the 777 Freighter play a key role in Etihad Cargo’s fleet as it continues to strengthen and expand its cargo operations around the world.”
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 four per cent 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.
Established in 2004, Etihad Cargo is the fast growing cargo division of Etihad Airways. From its hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Etihad Cargo offers its customers a range of cargo services linked to its expanding international route network and aircraft fleet.