• Efficiency has helped airlines to adapt to market challenges
  • Aviation industry stakeholders need to work together to meet sustainability goals

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE): The future of international travel and tourism came under the spotlight yesterday (Tuesday 10 May) on the Global Stage at the 2022 edition of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM).

During a session entitled ‘Airlines evolving for the future’, hosted by John Strickland, Director, JLS Consulting, Adel Abdullah Al Ali, Board Member and Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia and Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, shared insights from the COVID pandemic and the strategies they are adopting as the world emerges from the unprecedented challenges of recent years.

The discussion at ATM followed a successful partnership between the two UAE airlines in July 2020, which saw the launch of Air Arabia Abu Dhabi. Opening the session, Al Ali said: “It has been a difficult two years, but I believe as an industry, we have adapted to meet those challenges. The period also forced the airline industry to reflect on what was working and what wasn’t. In our case, this has led to an even greater focus on efficiency.”

Air Arabia achieved profits across each quarter of 2021, with the codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways playing a major role in its success. The airline has recently launched 44 new routes and is preparing to take two new airlines to the skies this summer with ‘Fly Jinnah’ in Pakistan, and ‘Fly Arna’ in Armenia. Air Arabia’s 60-strong fleet is expected to triple in the coming months with 120 aircraft on order and a goal of 160-200 planes by the year 2030. Despite this planned expansion, Al Ali remains firmly focused on efficiency, “Our philosophy has been that size doesn’t matter to Air Arabia, profitability does.’’

Douglas echoed this sentiment: “Leading up to 2017, Etihad Airways was heavily focused on accelerated growth leading to the airline becoming overstretched. Big is not necessarily beautiful and what you can commercially sustain from a profitability point of view is the name of the game moving forward.”

When Douglas took the reins at Etihad Airways in 2017, he kick-started a radical restructuring which aimed to create an airline where the fleet was driven by the network, rather than the network being driven by the fleet. This formula proved to be a success, and Etihad achieved its best ever performance in Q1 2020. Around this period, and as the pandemic hit, the airline reduced its fleet size. This strategy, along with the partnership with Air Arabia has proved fruitful, signalling a new era for the airline.

In Q1 2022, performance for Etihad Airways was $272.2 million EBITDA and the carrier is expanding its fleet with new deliveries of the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner - representing a new generation of aircraft which offer a more environmentally sustainable mode of travel.

“The sustainability challenge for aviation will be around for generations to come and the physics of flight doesn’t represent an easy answer any time soon. The new airliners are poster children to demonstrate what is feasible and achievable today. To really make an impact, airlines, governments, manufacturers, regulators and policy makers – as well as consumers - need to work together to make a significant environmental impact.

The Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787-9 bring up to 25% more fuel efficiency than their predecessors and recent ‘sustainability flights’ conducted by Etihad showed savings of 40 minutes of flight time and six tonnes of C02 on the 6.5-hour flight sector. Etihad has also been working with corporations on a green loyalty programme, ‘Conscious Choices’ where companies can offset their carbon footprint against environmental initiatives.  At ATM 2022, Etihad is showcasing the interiors of the A350, which includes an all-new F&B proposition that focuses on reducing single use plastics by 80%.

Both airlines are looking to the future with optimism. “It’s great to be getting back to normality and my experience at ATM 2022 so far has shown a huge pent-up demand for travel”, said Douglas. Al Ali added, “While higher fuel prices represent an obvious challenge, we expect the demand for travel in this region to remain strong and are hopeful for the future.”

ATM 2022 concludes tomorrow (Thursday 12 May). For full details on the remainder of the schedule including topics, organisers and participant bios visit:


If you are planning to attend ATM in-person, please feel free to post using the hashtags #ImGoingtoATM and #ATMDubai

To register for ATM 2022, go to https://www.wtm.com/atm/en-gb/enquire.html.

For more news about ATM, you can visit https://hub.wtm.com/category/press/atm-press-releases/.

For general information on this year’s show, please visit wtm.com/atm/en-gb.html.


About Arabian Travel Market (ATM)

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 29th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2021 showcased over 1,300 exhibiting companies from 62 countries across nine halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, with attendees from more than 110 countries over the four days. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #ATMDubai

Next in-person event: Monday 9 to Thursday 12 May 2022, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai https://www.wtm.com/atm/en-gb.html

Next virtual event: Tuesday 17 to Wednesday 18 May 2022

About Arabian Travel Week

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2022. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ATM Virtual, ILTM Arabia, ARIVAL Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, as well as Travel Tech. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country summits.


About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. www.rxglobal.com


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

*Note: Current market capitalisation can be found at http://www.relx.com/investors

About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. The show facilitates business connections for the global (leisure) travel community. Senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating travel industry contracts.

Next live event: Monday 7 to 9 November 2022 at ExCel London


WTM Latin America takes place annually in the city of São Paulo and attracts around 20,000 tourism professionals during the three-day event. The event offers qualified content together with networking and business opportunities. In this its ninth edition – there have been eight face-to-face events along with a 100% virtual one, which was held in 2021 – WTM Latin America continued to focus on effective business generation, and achieved the advance booking of six thousand meetings that were held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors in 2022.

Next event: Tuesday 4 to Thursday 6 April 2023 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil


WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.  In 2022, WTM Africa facilitated more than 7 thousand unique pre-scheduled appointments, an increase of more than 7% compared to 2019 and welcomed more than 6 thousand visitors (unaudited), the same number as in 2019.

Next event: Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April 2023 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town http://africa.wtm.com/

About ATW Connect:  Africa Travel Week’s digital arm, is a virtual hub packed to the seams with interesting content, industry news and insights, and the opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of topics in our new monthly webinar series. All with the aim to keep all of us in the travel and tourism industry connected. ATW Connect focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology.


WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub. https://hub.wtm.com/

Media contact:
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E-mail: nathalie.visele@shamalcomms.com
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