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Etihad eyes further acquisitions 'where it makes sense': Hogan

Etihad Airways will continue to look at acquisition and investment opportunities "where it makes sense" as a means of further growing its network, according to chief executive James Hogan.

The airline, which today entered profitability for the first time since its launch eight years ago, recently increased its stake in Air Berlin to 29% and agreed to take a 40% stake in Air Seychelles.

"Where opportunities arise in future we will continue to look at acquisitions where it makes sense," said Hogan during a press conference to discuss Etihad's full-year results for 2011.

"If we see opportunities with likeminded management teams, where we see the ability to develop our network like with the Air Berlin deal and the ability to take out more costs, we will certainly consider [other acquisitions]".

However, Hogan added that there is no other particular airline in Etihad's sights at the moment.

Etihad managed to post a net profit of $14 million for 2011 partly by reducing its non-fuel costs, resulting in savings of $188 million, said Hogan.

Fuel hedging also helped, with the carrier having hedged 80% of its fuel last year. For 2012, Etihad has hedged 77% of its fuel costs and 50% is hedged for the following year. A quarter of Etihad's fuel is hedged for 2014.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier aims to increase its revenue to "in excess" of $5 billion in 2012, up from $4.1 billion in 2011.

While a targeted profit number for 2012 has been reached with Etihad's board, Hogan declined to disclose the figure, although he is "bullish that we will achieve an improved profit number in 2012".

Over the coming 12 months, Etihad intends to continue expanding its network and will announce new routes to destinations in the Americas, Europe and Southeast Asia, said Hogan.

It will build additional bilateral agreements with airlines from all three of the major alliances, but the carrier "has no intention at this stage to enter any global alliance", said Hogan.

Etihad will continue to run as a private company and has "no directive in regard to any sort of IPO or flotation going forward", according to Hogan.

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