Decision on new hurling sponsorship deal soon - Etihad
THE chief executive of Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad, James Hogan, has said the company will decide by the end of this month whether to continue its multi-million euro sponsorship of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.
Etihad was one of three backers, including RTE and Guinness, which signed up as sponsors in 2008 for an initial two years, with the deal rumoured to have cost the airline €1.5m annually.
Etihad extended its involvement last year for an additional 12 months.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi at the launch of an alliance with Australia-based Virgin Blue, Mr Hogan said the link with the GAA had been important in building Etihad's brand here.
"As long as I continue to see the strong trends coming out of Ireland in terms of passenger traffic, that continues to give me confidence to continue to do local sponsorship arrangements," he said.
He also claimed that Etihad's service between Abu Dhabi and Dublin is profitable on an operating level, but declined to say how many of the airline's other services are in the black on that basis.
Mr Hogan added that sovereign-owned Etihad became profitable in the second half of 2010 on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) metric.
Etihad has carried about 400,000 passengers on its Dublin route since it was launched in 2007.
Mr Hogan said that despite the downturn there has been an increase in the number of corporate travellers as people travel more to win business.
He added that 200,000 Irish people travel to Australia annually.
Etihad recently spent about €1m on a new lounge at Dublin Airport's T2 which opened recently.