Abu Dhabi flag carrier Etihad Airways plans to offer onboard wireless internet on selected routes to Europe by the end of the year, the airline’s CEO James Hogan said Wednesday.
The state-backed airline said two planes would offer onboard internet access by December, a number that would rise to five aircraft by March 2012.
“Three of those five aircraft will be Airbus A330-300s, which will operate between Abu Dhabi and cities like Frankfurt, Geneva, London, Munich and Paris,” Hogan said in an emailed statement. “And we are right at the point now of settling on a fleet-wide connectivity solution for the years to come.”
Etihad said in August it had seen softening in passenger numbers since Europe's debt crisis and US economic problems hit global markets and expected to break even this year.
The airline, whose multibillion-dollar order book features 57 wide-body planes, including 10 A380s, 25 Airbus A350s and 35 Boeing 787s, said traffic out of Europe remained strong, despite the region’s looming sovereign debt crisis.
"We have not seen a slowdown," Hogan said on a visit to Sydney. "Our European traffic is strong ... our traffic out of markets like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia coming up the Gulf is very strong as is our North American business."
Etihad said in August it expected a planned European Union scheme to cap carbon dioxide emissions from airlines to cost it up to €500m ($719m) over the next eight years.
From next year, carriers landing in the EU will have their emissions capped at 97 percent of their average 2004-06 levels and 95 percent in 2013. Airlines will face fines of up to €100 for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit above the limit.
In a speech in New York last week, Hogan described the scheme as a dressed up means for EU governments to net revenues.
“It is a revenue-generating tax, plain and simple,” he said. We cannot support legislation that unfairly penalises the industry. The aviation industry should not be the whipping boy when it comes to the environment.”