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Etihad Airways: The Distance Framework

Etihad Airways (henceforth, Etihad) is a flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), providing flights to many destinations worldwide. As the company expands, Etihad has to address cultural, administrative, geographic, and economic distances as an international company operating with travel across states and continents upon launching new flights and opening new destinations. Specifically, Etihad has to address the cultural distance by adapting to customers with diverse customs and beliefs. Administrative distance takes the form of local rules and regulations in the destination locations, which can change rapidly. Geographic distance comes into play for an aircraft company on a small scale, such as particular airports and terminals. Finally, economic distance dictates the pricing and marketing strategies of the company. Etihad closes these distances by utilizing carefully managed company’s image, superb customer service, and collaborations with other carriers.

In its expansion to a broader customer base, Etihad will have to face cultural differences worldwide. The company must consider different religions, ethnicities, social norms, and dispositions of its international customers. Etihad is committed to upholding the reputation of the UAE and promoting Arabian hospitality. One of the ways the company managed to balance cultural integration in other countries with staying faithful to the UAE traditions is by providing customers with a choice of onboard meals, including optional alcoholic beverages while ensuring that all meals are Halal certified.

Etihad is taking measures to shape its reputation as a modern international company, counteracting negative stereotypes about UAE common in the western world. For example, the company website highlights hiring Dr. Nadia Bastaki as the chief of Human Resources (Etihad Airways, 2021c). Dr. Bastaki was the first female UAE national specializing in aviation medicine and is now responsible for “driving the diversity and inclusion” in the company (Etihad Airways, 2021c, par.2). Another strategy to breach the cultural distance is implementing sustainable practices and presenting the company as ecologically friendly.

A significant barrier to expansion, especially for an airline company, is administrative regulations. The company must comply with the rules of different countries, which can change drastically and rapidly in response to changing political landscapes. In the past, Etihad showed the ability not only to comply with regulations but also to negotiate them successfully. In 2017, the USA Department of Homeland Security banned all electronic devices on flights from the Middle East. A few months later, the company enhanced and improved the pre-flight screening process, allowing Etihad to be exempted from the ban (Weiland). The company also showed the ability to adapt quickly to the new regulations and take preventive measures during the Covid-19 pandemic. Etihad was the first company to vaccinate all of the cabin crew members and pilots in February 2021 (Etihad Airways, 2021a).

Geographic distance takes a unique shape in the expansion of an aircraft company, as compared to other businesses. While airline companies easily tackle geographical distances on a large scale, local geographical distances, such as locations and accessibility of particular airports, can still hinder the company’s expansion. To address these hindrances, collaboration with local companies is instrumental. For instance, collaboration with Aeroflot allowed Etihad to move its operation to the newest terminal of the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow (Etihad Airways, 2021b). This move made Etihad flights much more accessible for Russian passengers, especially those who travel from other Russian cities with transit through Moscow.

Similar to the geographic distance, economic distance affects aircraft companies differently than businesses in other industries. Still, upon entering new markets, Etihad can be significantly hindered by competition with companies that provide cheaper services. The company offers its customers luxurious service to justify higher than average prices, ensuring a pleasant passenger experience both pre-boarding and onboard. Etihad caters to higher-income consumers and adjusts its destinations accordingly to match the requirements of its target market. Thus, most of the destinations catered to by Etihad are countries with high per capita incomes or popular vacation destinations.

Works Cited

Etihad Airways is the first airline in the world with 100% of crew on board vaccinated. Etihad Airways. 2021a, Web.

Etihad Airways announces move to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, supported by partnership with Aeroflot. Etihad Airways. 2021b, Web.

Etihad Airways appoints Dr Nadia Bastaki as Chief of Human Resources. Etihad Airways. 2021c, Web.

Weiland, Noah. “U.S. to Allow Laptops Aboard Etihad Flights After Airline Tightens Security”. The New York Times. 2017, Web.

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