Etihad Crystal Cargo, the cargo division of Etihad Airways, recently celebrated the second anniversary since its launch, at the Air Cargo Forum in Calgary, Canada.

‘In a very short period of time Etihad Crystal Cargo has developed a global reputation for transparency of information, connectivity and customer service. This is also taking place right across the Etihad brand where the airline is raising the standards to Guests and Cargo customers, providing them with a truly 21st century service,’ said Ingo Roessler, vice president cargo, Etihad Airways.

The airline began cargo services in January 2004 under the name Etihad Cargo, which was then developed into Etihad Crystal Cargo. The newly branded division was then unveiled at the TIACA Air Cargo Forum in Bilbao, Spain in September 2004.

Since then, Etihad Crystal Cargo has more then trebled its shipments from 20,000 tons of cargo in its first full year of operation to more than 70,000 tons in 2005.

‘We have very ambitious targets for 2006, and aim to transport up to 150,000 tons of cargo. By the end of July, we had carried 66,000 tons, and with the strongest months of the year ahead we look set to reach that target. Next year, we aim to ship in excess of 200,000 tons,’ continued Roessler.

All of Etihad’s divisions have grown tremendously in recent times with the rapid expansion of both network and fleet. During the last 12 months, Etihad has taken delivery of a number of state-of-the-art aircraft including five Boeing 777-300 ERs and four Airbus A330-200s, as well as two of the 3-zone Airbus A340-500s. Etihad Airways also reached the landmark of launching 30 destinations in 30 months, and today serves more than 35 destinations on four continents.

In line with Etihad Airways’ rapid growth, Etihad Crystal Cargo has boosted its cargo capacity and services. Etihad’s cargo division now operates a fleet of three Airbus A300-600F aircraft on scheduled and charter services. With more than 140 world-wide charters operated since May 2006, Etihad’s charter business is a key contributor to the overall cargo performance.

The fleet and network expansion has ensured Etihad Crystal Cargo’s growth in market share at its hub Abu Dhabi International Airport, rising from 28 percent in 2004, to more than 50 percent in 2006.

Etihad Crystal Cargo has also implemented a very effective sales strategy combing opening up own local sales offices with appointing General Sales and Services Agents (GSSA), a strategy which has helped the carrier to establish operations in its new local markets.

‘Our outsourcing strategy has proven to be highly successful with ‘Principles of Partnership’ ensuring the right levels of quality and flexibility to adapt to the various markets’ needs. Etihad Crystal Cargo thinks global, but acts local according to the customers’ needs,’ added Roessler.

The future growth of Etihad Crystal Cargo will be supported by the major expansion plans for Abu Dhabi International Airport which will be starting soon.

The US$6.8 billion project, managed by SCADIA (Supervision Committee for the Expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport) includes several, spacious terminals dedicated to Etihad Crystal Cargo, which will be built to meet the carrier’s growth plans and include state-of-the-art technology such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and fully automated processes.

The future terminals will be capable of processing 4 million metric tons per year with the expansion carried out in four phases, with the first one scheduled to start later in 2006.