Etihad has airline targets within its sights

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Etihad Airways is looking for more acquisitions and is actively tracking a number of airlines, chief executive James Hogan told delegates at the group's finance roadshow held in London this morning.

Despite recently acquiring stakes in both Air Berlin and Air Seychelles, the CEO of the Abu Dhabi-based airline revealed that "there are one or two more players available to us".

Without disclosing the identity of specific target airlines, Hogan stressed that the opportunities needed to involve like-minded management. "It's got to improve the profitability of Etihad and help revenue flows," he added.

Meanwhile, Etihad is currently working on building up Air Seychelles's widebody operations from Abu Dhabi to the Seychelles. "We have a board meeting next month to firm up their new fleet strategy," Etihad's vice-president treasury, Ricky Thirion said. It is understood that the group will be bringing in Airbus A330 aircraft with common interiors to Etihad's fleet.

Etihad acquired a 40% stake in Air Seychelles last month for a total consideration of $20 million. "Air Seychelles couldn't afford the overheads of a traditional airline and was in difficulty," said Hogan, noting he had placed a new CEO - Cramer Ball - and CFO - Shelley Cole - both former Etihad employees - at the helm of the airline.

Air Seychelles's new parent company is working towards the airlines having a common fleet, with the goal of its subsidiary hitting breakeven over the next 24 months, Hogan said. "More and more smaller airlines are going to have to partner with larger airlines in order to survive," he noted.

It is estimated that Etihad's recent acquisition of a 29% stake in Air Berlin will bring revenue benefits of up to $55 million in the first year alone, according to Hogan.

Etihad generated a $4.1 billion turnover at the end of 2011, which is expected to increase to $5 billion by the end of 2012, the airline's chief financial officer, James Rigney, said. One of the airline's goals for 2012 is "staying in profitability", according to Rigney. "We're not putting out a number as it's a tough market." Etihad registered an EBITDAR of $648 million last year.