Middle East Airlines to guard against complacency at Global Aerospace Summit

Regional leaders to look beyond current successes in top-level panel discussions

ABU DHABI, UAE, [11] APRIL 2012: The region's thriving airlines will be putting aside their current successes to wrestle with the challenges facing the aviation sector on a global scale – geo-political, natural and economic - at the upcoming Global Aerospace Summit.

Etihad, Emirates, FlyDubai and Qatar Airways management will be joined by other global airlines, airport operators, supply chain and maintenance providers, and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for industry thought leadership discussions and debates at the Summit, which takes place in Abu Dhabi at the St. Regis hotel on Monday April 16th and Tuesday April 17th 2012.

On Day One, a panel session on "Meeting the Aviation Industry's current and future challenges" will feature high-profile industry participants including Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, Homaid Al Shemmari, Executive Director, Mubadala Aerospace, alongside James Albaugh, the CEO of Boeing Commercial Airlines, Marwan Lahoud, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, EADS, Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica and David Hess, President of Pratt & Whitney. The session will be moderated by Peter Harbison, Executive Chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA).

This will be followed by a panel session looking at what the air transport industry operators must do around "Overcoming regulatory constraints to become global aviation industry businesses". Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer for Etihad, Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of Fly Dubai, James Stewart, CEO for the Mubadala Aerospace MRO network, Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Thierry Antinori, Executive Vice President Passenger Sales Worldwide, Emirates Airlines, and Neil Mills, CEO of SpiceJet will lead the discussions, moderated by Murdo Morrison, Editor for Flight International magazine. Middle East carriers have been bucking international trends, with a recent report from International Air Transport Association (IATA)* projecting profits of $500 million (up from the previously forecast $300 million) for the forthcoming financial year. Meanwhile Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national airline, announced recently that passenger numbers had risen by 17% in 2011 to a record 8.29 million. In total the airline carried almost 1.2 million additional passengers in the 12 month period.

But James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, acknowledges that these encouraging results should be seen in context of a difficult global climate for airlines:

"There is no doubt that airlines all over the world face major challenges, year after year. Despite those of the past year, which included the Arab Spring, Japanese earthquake and soaring oil prices, to name just a few, set against a tough geo-economic backdrop, Etihad Airways is outperforming much of the global airline industry, with growth in revenue, and passengers and freight carried."

"Last year we moved into profitability, and our first quarter results for 2012 remain very encouraging for our goal of sustained profitability. Clearly our business model is right for these times – and our ideal location here in Abu Dhabi, which is not only an increasingly attractive business and leisure destination, but also at the heart of a major crossroad between east and west, is also a key to our success."

Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO of IATA, who will be delivering a state of the industry address to open Global Aerospace Summit, has predicted a tough year ahead for the industry globally, saying: "2012 continues to be a challenging year for airlines. The risk of a worsening Eurozone crisis has been replaced by an equally toxic risk—rising oil prices. Already the damage is being felt with a downgrade in industry profits to $3.0 billion."

* Notes to editors

*Rising Oil Prices Reducing Profitability - Regional Differences Widen: http://www.iata.org/pressroom/pr/Pages/2012-03-20-01.aspx




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