Etihad puts Australia expansion on hold
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Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan has ruled out any immediate expansion in Australia, saying the Abu Dhabi's focus on growth is in other markets.
In comments published by Australian Associated Press, Hogan said it would not be increasing flight frequencies in the near term.
He said Etihad remained interested in moving Brisbane to a daily service and starting flights to Perth but preferred to expand in other markets as new aircraft entered the fleet.
Etihad currently flies 21 times a week into Australia, with 11 services into Sydney, seven into Melbourne and three into Brisbane.
The airline also code shares on Virgin Australia's three flights a week to Abu Dhabi, as part of a long-term alliance.
Hogan said Etihad's new Airbus A380s would begin to arrive in 2014 and confirmed the double decker superjumbos have been earmarked for the Sydney and Melbourne routes.
Earlier this month, Etihad increased its stake in Virgin Australia to 4.99 percent, hours after announcing it had acquired a 3.96 percent stake in the carrier.
The airline, which has already bought stakes in three other carriers as it looks to compete with Gulf rivals, said it planned to build up its stake in the Australian airline.
Etihad is making acquisitions in a bid to compete with larger rivals Qatar Airways and Emirates Airline, which are increasingly challenging European, Asian and Australian carriers on long-haul routes.