Etihad Airways is aggressively on the roll and its Australian CEO, James Hogan, declared on Wednesday that following its substantial holdings acquisitions on Virgin Australia and three other carriers in Europe, the airline is looking for more.
Pursuant to his publicly pronounced aim of expanding the Abu Dhabi-based firm's scale of economics, Mr Hogan said his plans include two or more possible acquisitions that would increase the airline's presence both in Europe and in Australia.
He is committed into realising that road map over the next seven years or at the soonest possible time, with the least cost and great return for Etihad, Mr Hogan noted.
"We see it as a way to compete ... It's about building on our organic growth over the next seven years," the Melbourne native was quoted by the Australian Associated Press (AAP) as saying on Wednesday.
It might be early to say, but Mr Hogan said the partnership that Etihad has forged with Virgin Australia is proceeding as expected, which he allowed that same pace being taken by Etihad's European partners, namely Air Berlin, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus.
Focusing his talk in Etihad's Australian operations, Mr Hogan said the alliance with Virgin opened up networks that cover key Australian locations such as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
Etihad's local horizon dictates that it should at least level up with Australia's number one, national Qantas Airways, and in some respect that goal is being actively pursued with considerable success.
On top of the 24 international flights that Etihad flies out from the country, Mr Hogan disclosed that "we in fact fly to more cities, more international cities, than the national carrier does out of Australia."
Etihad's aim of ramping up its presence in Australia will be duly supported by fresh investment injections, which this year should reach close to $5 billion, plus aircraft purchases in the immediate years ahead.
"Over the next seven years we're taking 100 more aircraft," Mr Hogan revealed.
In Melbourne and Sydney alone, more Airbus A380s with the Etihad brand will roll off in and out of the cities by 2014 and as Etihad's statement of its long-term plans at least in Melbourne, the company sealed a deal for the Etihad Stadium to continue in carrying the name of the airline through 2019.
He believed that what was agreed was a considerable investment for Etihad and in return the company will have a regular fixture as a platform for Aussie consumers to become familiar with what was a regional airline from the Middle East.
Beginning Wednesday too, Etihad planes will be serviced by its technical personnel at Melbourne Airport following the formal opening of company's maintenance base within the complex.
The move, Mr Hogan noted, is proof of Etihad's emphasis on keeping its aircraft fleets fit by directly applying the standards developed by its engineers.
To contact the editor, e-mail: