UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways’ core operations in Europe contributed a total of $1 billion to the combined GDP of the European Union’s (EU) economy and supported up to 11,000 jobs, the airline said, quoting a report by Oxford Economics.
Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi airline’s capital spending on aircraft and other aviation equipment pumped in $2.6 billion to the European economy last year while supporting 28,100 jobs.
Research also indicated that Etihad’s operations contributed around $6.1 billion over the last 10 years to the EU while its expenditure on aviation equipment reached $11 billion during this period.
Apart from such direct economic advantages, the European economy has also been benefited from additional passenger and freight traffic through the connectivity that the Gulf carrier provided it with over the years, the airline said.
In 2014, connectivity benefits to Europe’s GDP were estimated at $1.3 billion while the amount for the past decade was $5 billion.
“Etihad Airways is not just another foreign airline flying to Europe to poach local traffic,” said James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways.
“We are a sophisticated partner to and investor in Europe for long-term mutual benefit, contributing billions of euros every year to EU and non-EU economies, supporting tens of thousands of jobs and both maintaining and expanding choice for air travellers to and from Europe.
“Through our own flights, our 21 European codeshare partnerships and our minority investments in five European airlines, we are adding value to Europe in a way that no other foreign airline is.”
Gulf carriers have been proving the economic impact they have on Western markets after their European and American peers criticised them of receiving unfair government subsidies.
Etihad’s report follows a similar one by Emirates, which showed that the Dubai airline contributed $7.6 billion to Europe’s economy last year.
Europe, especially, has benefited largely from the global expansion of the big three Middle East airlines.
Etihad alone operates one-stop services between Europe and 19 other destinations that are not served by European carriers.
But Hogan warned that such benefits could all come to an end if the European economy becomes hostile to competition.
“Etihad Airways is committed to Europe,” said Hogan.
“But growing resistance to us from a handful of protectionist competitors could have unintended consequences well beyond limiting our development. If our growth is curtailed or our investments in airlines are compromised, the real damage will be to Europe in lost jobs, lost flight connectivity, lost investment in local and national economies and lost consumer choice.”