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Achieving Digital Mastering is important for companies that want to compete effectively in a digitally competitive world. The vision of Etihad Airways is to be the best airline in the world, which will in turn help it achieve the goals established in its creation. The airline was to be a profitable and financially sustainable business, able to support Abu Dhabi in economic development and in diversification. The Etihad Airways business model is critical to achieving its mandate as discussing subsequently.

Etihad Airways Business Model

The Etihad Airways business model revolves around an organic growth plan dedicated to establishing unique partnerships, promoting rapid growth, having a motivated workforce, development of innovative products and services, and building a strong executive leadership. The following table identifies each of the core elements of the business model and the implications on the overall company outcome.


Etihad Airways has invested in its airline with innovative thinking that seeks to develop competitive customer products and at the same time profitable for the company. For instance, the company has the youngest fleet in the aviation industry, and its fleet provides maximum consumer benefits including luxury planes (Etihad Cargo, 2016). Currently, it offers a residential experience in the sky among its unique features.


In addition to its fleet and employees, the company has established key resources to include its hub location in terms of its destinations, connections via Abu Dhabi Hub and other connecting flights, and a growing enviable market share.

The success of the Etihad business model comes from its management as key players, who have shown the importance of innovation and creativity in an industry where many products look similar.


A commendable part of the Etihad Airways model is building an international employee based with the commitment and dedication to pursue the vision of being the best airline.

Transactions information flows

Etihad transactions information flows involve offering customers a personalized experience through established connections across the entire system. For example, customers register on the Etihad Guest, which gives them access to account tracking, and access to the reward system of Etihad Tier miles/Segments (Etihad Cargo, 2016). Customers can redeem their miles and keep track of earned miles as well as book their flight through the Etihad Guest Miles. Moreover, they can choose family membership that allows for up to eight family members on Family Guest. The company further offers its member’s access to its network of destinations through the Be Ready to Fly! from which the clients choose their destination.

Etihad Airways Unification Business Operating Model

The unification business-operating model involves single businesses that have global processes and data access, and IT capabilities that include enterprise systems that reinforce the standard processes and provide global data access (Ross, Weill,&Robertson, 2006). The model involves the establishment of working decision-making process, developing shared services, linking customer and product data, and developing infrastructure technology and application systems. Proper unification of these processes create higher business integration and standardization.

Delta Airlines offers a notable unification operating model, with layers of processes including the operational pipeline, events profiles, and customer experience. Each level has key components that make the unit functional. For instance, the customer experience level includes digital relationships, personalization, and loyalty programs, while the operational pipeline includes allocation of resources, departure processes, arrival process, and craft cleaning and service (Ross, 2009). At the central of the network is the nervous system that comprises of the different actors, resources, and infrastructures.

Etihad Airways has established a similar unified model, in which its nervous system is the connectivity found within the entire network. For instance, Etihad has been able to show a development of information flow that involves stakeholders and top management, suppliers and operations personnel, customers, and operations personnel, and management to the operations personnel and vice versa (Etihad Cargo, 2016). The company has a continuous information flow model that enables internal and external interaction. The networking process continues into the company products, and development of partnerships to ensure it achieves its business outcomes. Within its customer experience, Etihad as well as Delta have established innovative customer products; for instance, Etihad has the brand The Residence by Etihad. Notably, the unification model is a combination of different processes in the company ensuring that they all function seamlessly and for the benefit of the stakeholders and the company.

Etihad’s Digital Capabilities and Leadership Capabilities

Etihad Airways digital capabilities have grown in the last year as it has embraced new capabilities by partnering with digital leaders such as Adobe. The growth of its digital capabilities has been toward being able to offer its consumers superior digital services such as through cloud-first initiative. Based on its current move toward new strategic technology Etihad falls in the digital master quadrant.


The reason for classifying the Etihad as a digital master comes from appreciation of the companies recognition that it needs to adopt new technological infrastructures and thus choosing digital capabilities that promote enhanced leadership and better customer experience. Through the Adobe Solutions the company is hopeful of improving its customer experience through full self-service capabilities and greater convenience for its guests. Further, the leadership obtains a link for all the partners thus achieving a group wide approach (Etihad Airways, 2015). The digital adopting further supports decision-making processes through a more cost-effective, secure, and future proofed system as well as innovative customer-focused solution. Underscoring the digital transformation in Etihad Airways is digital vision that reflects the company vision of being the best internationally, and thus achieving high business outcomes. Although it remains early to determine the digital culture of the company, the analysis shows that the company is developing strong digital culture capable of recognizing current innovations and adapting them to their needs and expectations.

Components of a Senior Management Playbook as a Digital Master

While it is recognizable that Etihad Airways has achieved some level of digital mastery in its adoption of the Adobe Solutions and Cloud, the leadership may achieve higher capabilities and thus digital maturity. Gill and VanBoskirk (2016) recommend for digital leaders to develop digital strategies, govern digital activities across the entire network, and drive operational excellence to facilitated digital execution. Further, the leaders will need to address cultural, organizational, technical, and insight challenges that may affect the digital transformation process. Notably, achieving digital maturity requires a concerted effort by the leaders to address the different levels of execution. The effort will include first coming up with a comprehensive list on how to sustain the current digital maturity, ensuring that all the units work together seamlessly especially considering the connectivity across the Etihad Airways Group. The list need to account for business-function level aptitudes and expand as the company becomes more familiar with the operationalizing of the technology.Additionally, the leaders need to ensure training of all employees on how to use the adopted digital technology effectively, and to offer the clients needed support even as they interact with a full self-service system.


The position of Etihad Airways as a world best in the aviation industry is a complex interplay of the application of its business, and incorporation of working digital capabilities. The company stands at a market position where it can compete based on its business model, in which innovation is key in planning for customer-based solutions, and its adoption of current digital solutions provides for greater execution of its vision. Achieving more growth will be a process of learning for the entire team from the management to the supporting staff, allowing for digital maturity and continued growth of the company.


Etihad Airways. (2015). Etihad Airways invests in Adobe to power digital excellence. Etihad Airways. Retrieved from

Etihad Cargo. (2016). Etihad Airways named Air Transport World’s Airline of the year 2016. Etihad Airline. Retrieved from

Gill, M., &VanBoskirk, S. (2016). The Digital Maturity Model 4.0 – Benchmarks: Digital Business Transformation Playbook. Forrester.

Ross, J. W. (2009). Generating business value from information technology.MIT Sloan Center for Information Systems Research.

Ross, J., Weill, P., & Robertson, D. (2006).Enterprise architecture as strategy: Creating a foundation for business execution.HBS Press.