Posts   |   Etihad Airways and the New Silk Road

October 22, 2015
Etihad Airways and the New Silk Road

Your humble correspondent types these words thousands of miles in the air, onboard Etihad Airways, en route to Abu Dhabi. While aboard, I recalled a speech that Etihad CEO James Hogan gave back in 2011 that was a robust endorsement of the idea of a New Silk Road of air travel. I couldn’t find the full transcript of the speech online, though it’s worth a re-read, and will find and post it later. But here are some of the ideas he shared in a speech he gave in Washington entitled “Opening the Skies.” on 17 March 2015.

“THE WORLD IS CHANGING. TRADE AND TRAVEL PATTERNS HAVE SHIFTED, AND AS THE POWERHOUSE ECONOMIES OF INDIA AND THE FAR EAST GROW, ALONG WITH STRONG GROWTH IN AFRICA AND THE GULF, WE ARE SEEING THE CREATION OF A NEW ‘SILK ROAD’ BETWEEN EAST AND WEST ACROSS THE HUBS OF THE MIDDLE EAST.

THE GROWING MIDDLE CLASS IN MANY OF THESE ECONOMIES IS ALSO HELPING TO RESHAPE TRAVEL TRENDS. TO GIVE JUST TWO EXAMPLES:

INDIA’S MIDDLE CLASS, AROUND 50 MILLION TODAY, IS PREDICTED TO GROW TO 200 MILLION BY 2020. ITS AIR TRAVEL MARKET WILL RISE FROM NINTH LARGEST IN THE WORLD TODAY, TO THIRD LARGEST WITHIN 20 YEARS.

BY 2023, FOREIGN TRIPS BY CHINESE TOURISTS WILL HAVE INCREASED BY 30 MILLION A YEAR COMPARED TO TODAY. WITH AN INCREASING PROPORTION OF THOSE BEING LONG HAUL TRIPS, IT IS ESTIMATED THAT CHINESE TOURISTS WILL SPEND 50 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR IN THEIR TOP 25 LONG HAUL DESTINATION CITIES ALONE.

AND AIRCRAFT TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING THE POSSIBILITIES FOR THOSE TRAVELLERS, ALLOWING ONE-STOP CONNECTIVITY TO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD THROUGH THE GULF HUBS.”

Back in May, I wrote for Foreign Policy on the battle between US carriers vs the Arabian Peninsula carriers. Link below:

DISPATCH