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更新时间:2015-3-12 9:18:50 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Etihad Airways’ Rapid Growth Frustrates Rivals

ABU DHABI — Emerging from the desert like some giant steel squid, the organic forms of Abu Dhabi’s new airport terminal are starting to take shape.


The existing airport has become too small for the ambitions of its main tenant, Etihad Airways, the smallest and fastest growing of the three giant Middle Eastern airlines, whose expansion has sown resentment among the legacy carriers of North America and Europe.

现有机场对于它的主要使用者阿提哈德航空公司(Etihad Airways)而言,已经太小。这家公司是三家大型中东航空公司中规模最小、发展最快的一家;它的扩张已经让北美和欧洲的传统航空公司颇为不满。

For more than a decade, the Persian Gulf airlines have transformed international travel, focusing on an obsession with service and single-hub connections. They now fly to more foreign destinations and have more international seats than United States carriers.


Now, how Etihad operates — especially how it is financed — has become critical in an increasingly contentious battle with airlines and unions in the United States, which accuse Gulf carriers of stealing passengers with the help of generous government support.


Etihad is particularly exposed to criticism given how fast it has grown since it was founded in 2004. It now has more than 100 planes and flies to 110 destinations, including São Paulo, Brazil, Johannesburg and New Delhi. By 2017, the sprawling $3 billion new airport here will have an annual capacity of 30 million passengers — as much international traffic at New York’s Kennedy Airport today — mostly driven by Etihad.

鉴于阿提哈德自2004年成立以来的迅速发展,它所受到的批评尤其强烈。该公司目前有100多架飞机,110个飞行目的地,其中包括巴西圣保罗、约翰内斯堡和新德里。 到2017年时,这里耗资30亿美元(约合188亿元人民币)的庞大新机场将拥有3000万人次的年吞吐量——与纽约肯尼迪机场(Kennedy Airport)目前的国际流量相当,而这将主要由阿提哈德推动。

And increasingly, it is targeting the United States. It has six daily flights to the United States, up from one six years ago, while Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways each fly to nine American cities daily.

而美国也在成为越来越重要的目标。公司每天有六架飞往美国的航班,而六年前只有一架;阿联酋航空(Emirates Airline)和卡塔尔航空(Qatar Airways)每天都有飞往九座美国城市的航班。

James Hogan, Etihad’s chief executive, strikes an unapologetic tone. His mandate, he said, is to make money for his shareholder, the government of Abu Dhabi, and be a showcase for its hometown, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

阿提哈德的首席执行官詹姆斯·霍根(James Hogan)的语气中毫无悔意。他说他的职责就是为股东和阿布扎比政府赚钱,成为它的家乡、阿联酋首都的骄傲。

“Wherever you are in the world, you play to your advantage,” said Mr. Hogan, who is Australian. “What are we doing that’s so wrong? We are doing business in a tough environment. We are commercial. We have to be creative. We are giving customers choice.”


Etihad and the other Persian Gulf airlines operate the latest-generation airplanes, hire younger flight attendants and offer onboard perks, like bars and showers, that other carriers find frivolous.


Some of the service stretches the definition of first class. Etihad, for example, sells a $20,000 one-way ticket that comes with a personal flight attendant it calls a butler, a bedroom and a private bathroom. The airline contends such extravagance — available on one Airbus A380 now — signals that anyone capable of such over-the-top luxury for a select few can also improve the lot in the back of the cabin.


American carriers, Mr. Hogan said, had not adapted to a globalized economy and were trying to protect their business by blocking competitors.


It is a charge American carriers reject. The Persian Gulf airlines, they respond, have received more than $38 billion in government subsidies, according to a 55-page dossier they have shared with government officials in recent weeks but have not made public.


Etihad alone received $17 billion in government subsidies in the last 10 years, they say. This includes $6 billion in interest-free loans from the government of Abu Dhabi to buy new planes from Boeing and Airbus, and $6.5 billion to cover operating losses.


Etihad’s $640 million sponsorship of Manchester City, an English Premier League soccer club, was also paid by the government on behalf of the airline.

阿提哈德给英格兰超级联赛足球俱乐部曼城队(Manchester City)提供的6.4亿美元赞助费,也由政府代表航空公司支付。

“Etihad’s argument fundamentally misunderstands the international consensus on the definition of ‘subsidy,’ ” the report said. “Given the company’s dismal financial performance over the last 10 years, if not for the subsidies, Etihad would have gone out of business.”

“阿提哈德的说法从根本上误解了国际社会对‘补贴’的一致定义,”报告称。 “从公司过去10年惨淡的财务业绩来看,如果没有补贴,阿提哈德会停业。”

Emirates, the biggest and oldest of the three, discloses its financial accounts, uses international auditors and posts regular quarterly profits. Etihad and Qatar Airways, on the other hand, have not opened their books to public scrutiny.


Mr. Hogan declined to comment on the accusations raised by his rivals, saying he had not studied them carefully. He acknowledged that the airline had the support of its shareholder, but denied any of that amounted to subsidies. Etihad says it has been profitable since 2011.


“Like any new airline, there was seed money and there was shareholder equity,” Mr. Hogan said.


It is not the first time that rivals or governments have sought to slow the growth of the Persian Gulf airlines. Restrictions against unlimited service from such carriers exist in Canada, Germany, China and South Korea, said Will Horton, an analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation.

这并不是竞争对手或政府第一次试图限制波斯湾航空公司的发展速度。亚太航空中心(CAPA Centre for Aviation)的分析师威尔·霍顿(Will Horton)说,加拿大、德国、中国和韩国也制定了相关政策制约这些航空公司的无限制服务。

But he said the attempt by American carriers to roll back open sky agreements was “unprecedented.”


“If the U.S. carriers can limit growth, that will impact the Gulf carriers,” Mr. Horton said.


The calls for limits come after the United States government last year opened a Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi for passengers flying into the United States, a move that angered airlines like Delta. The facility was requested by the American government but is financed by Abu Dhabi, including salaries and lodging for the officers.

去年,美国政府针对乘飞机进入美国的乘客,在阿布扎比设置了一个海关及边境保卫局(Customs and Border Protection)入境审查设施,此举让达美航空(Delta Airlines)等公司颇为恼怒,限制协议的呼声随之而起。该设施应美国政府的要求成立,但是由阿布扎比出资,包括工作人员的工资和住宿费。

“We manage Etihad with as much discipline as any U.S. carrier,” said James Mueller, a former United executive, who runs the airline’s sales operations.

“我们在管理阿提哈德时,依据的是与所有美国航空公司一样的规则,”前联合航空(United Airlines)公司高管、目前负责公司销售业务的詹姆斯·米勒(James Mueller)说。

Other aspects of the carrier’s strategy puzzle outsiders. Etihad has invested in a string of smaller airlines — including Airberlin and Air Seychelles — to build its own network of airlines to compete with the world’s three big airline alliances — Star Alliance, SkyTeam and OneWorld.

公司还有一些策略让外界人士心存疑惑。阿提哈德对一系列规模较小的航空公司进行了投资——其中包括柏林航空(Air Berlin)和塞舌尔航空(Air Seychelles)——意图建立自己的航空公司网络,与世界三大航空联盟竞争,它们分别是:星空联盟(Star Alliance)、天合联盟(SkyTeam)和寰宇一家(OneWorld)。

It paid 560 million euros, or $625 million, for 49 percent of Alitalia and other assets.


Mr. Hogan said these partnerships would save money in the long run by making common purchases, and provide bigger network opportunities for all. Etihad had chosen that course, he said, because the major alliances would not enter partnerships with him.


The modern world of aviation can also make for strange bedfellows. While Delta is leading the charge against the Persian Gulf carriers, its partner Air France has a commercial deal with Etihad to share passengers on some routes. Alitalia is also a member of SkyTeam, which is also Delta’s alliance.

现代航空世界还会催生一些同床异梦者。尽管达美在针对波斯湾航空公司的指控中起带头作用,但是其合作伙伴法国航空(Air France)却与阿提哈德达成了在部分航线上共享乘客的商业交易。意大利航空和达美同属天合联盟。

Meanwhile, Etihad’s growth shows no sign of slowing. The airline received 250,000 applications for flight attendant jobs last year. Each week, as many as 100 new trainees graduate from the airline’s six-and-a-half-week course.


Employees accept the airline’s basic bargain: They work long shifts but are given free housing, and there is no income tax to pay in the U.A.E.


Etihad’s hiring policies could be seen as discriminatory in the United States and Europe, where employees are afforded labor protections that are absent in the Persian Gulf countries.


During training, new recruits use an automated cabin that can simulate emergencies — like smoke filling the cabin or crash landings that require a fast response from the crew.


Crew members also learn how to sample wines and detect differences among them. Female flight attendants receive guidelines for applying their makeup or pinning their hair.


On Etihad’s planes, attention to detail abounds as well. Etihad has three sets of chopsticks, some rounded, some square, some metal, some wood, based on whether the destination is China, South Korea or Japan.


Passengers in coach are given pillows that can split open to serve as headrests. Night masks have a red side and a green side. Which one passengers expose indicates whether they want to sleep or be awakened by flight attendants at mealtime. “There is an advantage of having no legacy,” said Peter Baumgartner, Etihad’s chief commercial officer, adding that the airline can be more creative in its approach to business than traditional carriers.

飞机会向经济舱乘客提供枕头,这种枕头可以拆分开来作为头枕。眼罩的两面分别为红色和绿色。乘客把哪一面朝外,能说明这位乘客是想睡觉,还是想在用餐时间被空乘人员叫醒。“缺乏传统,也是一种优势,”阿提哈德的首席商务官彼得·鲍姆加特纳(Peter Baumgartner)说。他还说,这样公司在商务策略上,会比传统航空公司更有创意。

One recent morning, traffic was dense with dozens of flights departing to places like Hyderabad and Chennai, in India; Chengdu, China; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Muscat, Oman; and Bangkok. None of those cities are served directly by an American airline out of the United States.