ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways is on track to raise about $2 billion in loans this year to fund its equity investments around the world and aircraft purchases, its chief financial officer said on Thursday.
Etihad has aggressively pursued a global expansion strategy by picking up equity stakes in eight airlines around the world, including Air Berlin (AB1.DE), Aer Lingus AERL.I, Virgin Australia (VAH.AX) and, most recently, Alitalia.
The Gulf carrier entered a deal last month to buy almost half of Alitalia and invest 560 million euros (442.00 million pounds) into the loss-making Italian airline.
"Last year we raised approximately $2 billion, this year we are on track to raise approximately $2 billion," James Rigney told reporters on the sidelines of an aviation conference in Abu Dhabi.
"The primary focus of that money is aircraft-related, and also for investments made in equity," he added.
The funds would be raised through loans, Rigney said, declining to name the lenders.
Etihad said in March it would take delivery of 18 aircraft this year: 10 from Airbus and eight from Boeing.
The airline held roadshows in New York and London earlier this year as part of its fundraising strategy. In the past, Etihad has typically utilised institutional credit from local and international banks, export credit agencies as well as lease and lease financing.
Rigney also said the airline's revenue has grown at 25 percent annually over the last 10 years.
Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Andrew Torchia and David French