Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways & Gielissen working towards success together

"Makes things happen!"

Ross Brown
Head of Visual Communications
Etihad Airways

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Check-In Terminal with No Lines

One Extreme Challenge 

While visiting his London office in July 2008, Jeff Hannah received a message to contact Ross Brown at Etihad Airways, as he had an urgent project to discuss. A few minutes later, Jeff was really intrigued because of the challenge: “We need an army of the best people you have in the world. Our new Premier Lounge for Etihad Airways needs to be 7-star quality and we need it done by December! We’ve talked to some contractors but they don’t have the same mindset you do with your exhibition work experience.” Brown continued,I need someone who understands the extraordinary quality of work we need here, but can assemble a team to deliver it in time.”

ETIHAD AIRWAYS is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and its hub is in the capital city of Abu Dhabi. Since beginning operations in 2003, ETIHAD AIRWAYS has achieved phenomenal success, becoming the fastest-growing airline in aviation history, and is now recognized by many as the leading premium airline brand in the world. The directive to complete this lounge to coincide with the opening of the new Terminal Three expansion was from HH Sheik Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan himself. Ross Brown, Head of Visual Communications for Etihad Airways, had to find a way to make the seemingly impossible into the possible.

Within 48 hours of the call, Jeff Hannah and four others from our executive team were on the ground in Abu Dhabi, walking through the spaces and discussing the plans. The new lounge was to be over 1600 square meters and the finishes should appeal to the tastes of the prestige-level passengers who would visit the space. Heads of state, royalty and celebrities needed to feel that this lounge was the ultimate in a luxury experience.

Quality, expense, time…pick two

ETIHAD’S “Diamond” First Class and “Pearl” Business Class Lounges were to be one-of-a-kind in the world. The space was to include an exclusive “Six Senses” Spa, five-star dining, libraries, a velvet cigar lounge, a champagne bar, business center, private relaxation rooms, meeting facilities, and VIP suites for traveling heads of state…complete with luxurious “Poltrona Frau” hand-sewn, Italian leather furnishings and 24-carat gold accents.

It’s rare to hear that money is no object, and there were certainly times when Hannah wondered if that was true. Fortunately our executive team had a great deal of experience in high-end interior construction, giving them the knowledge to deliver on the promise of exceptional quality. The enormous challenge was the timeframe, but as Brown had guessed, the exhibition experience was key to managing the intensity of the impossible deadline. Hannah knew that this project would require materials and people flown in from all over the world. Manufacturers would need to accommodate exceptional production requests, and an incredibly complex installation schedule had to be executed with precision.

Over 600,000 Man Hours and Resources from Over 20 Countries

Taking the lead and serving as the communication hub was a critical part of the Nuance International team’s mission. The construction industry in Abu Dhabi is geared for speed, not necessarily high-level craftsmanship. But time was of the essence and the quality had to be superb.

24 Hour Operations for 90 days

With 24-hour operations over the course of only 90 days operating from the three offices in Abu Dhabi, London, and Atlanta, our team served as the central communication and management point for OVER:

  • 150 Meetings
  • 150,000 emails
  • 350 tons of airfreight
  • 1,000 Specialists from around the world
  • 500 Flights
  • 600,000 man-hours

A Stunning Success

In December, the lounges were completed as promised, and the Etihad Airways Premier Lounge staff arrived for training. When Ross Brown gave the Sheik the official tour a few weeks later, all elements were perfectly placed and the Sheik was more than satisfied with the final results.  Brown, who entrusted this extreme challenge our team, summed it up best when he said, “you are a world-class operation – absolutely wonderful to work with; you really understand our needs and know how to make things happen.”

Design by: Above


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