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Analysis: Etihad announces huge increase in flights and seats between Abu Dhabi and India

Bangalore-Abu Dhabi-Chicago, Mumbai-Abu Dhabi-New York, Delhi-Abu Dhabi-Newark amongst new flights requested

by Devesh Agarwal and Vinay Bhaskara

Image Credit: Etihad Airways

 


On the back of the new bilateral air services agreement which has almost quadrupled capacity, Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, will greatly increase both seats and flights for travel to and from India, introducing more flights and wide-bodied jets by the end of this year, and further increases and new routes next year, subject to regulatory approval.

From 1 November this year, Etihad Airways plans to more than triple the number of seats it now offers on the prime Abu Dhabi – Mumbai and Abu Dhabi – New Delhi routes, reflecting the growing importance of the Indian market, and delivering significant economic benefits to the economies of India and Abu Dhabi.

Enriching the expanded schedules will be new connection opportunities between Etihad’s global network and its expanded Indian services, via the airline’s Abu Dhabi hub.

The President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, said: “India is one of the world’s fastest-growing destinations, and a key market in the growth strategy of Etihad Airways.

“Following the recent signing of a new air services agreement between India and the UAE, we now have the opportunity to add significant capacity between the two countries, not only meeting existing demand for trade and tourist travel but also ensuring that we can meet the continued strong growth which is expected between our two countries. The big winners will be our passengers and freight customers and the economies of India and Abu Dhabi.”

By 31 December, 2013, Etihad Airways plans to:

  • Increase from daily to double-daily its Abu Dhabi-Mumbai and Abu Dhabi-New Delhi flights;
  • Use wide-bodied Airbus A340-600 aircraft on one of the daily Abu Dhabi – Mumbai flights, offering First, Business and Economy Classes, replacing a Jet Airways A330-200
  • Use wide-bodied Airbus A330-200 aircraft on one of the daily Abu Dhabi – New Delhi flights, offering Business and Economy Class, replacing an Etihad A320
  • Upgrade daily Abu Dhabi – Chennai flights from 136-seat Airbus A320s to new Airbus A321s, seating 174 passengers with an expected two class configuration of (12J / 162Y)
  • Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad also intends to codeshare on a wide range of flights operated within India by Jet Airways. Jet will feed Abu Dhabi from eight cities initially: Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram and Cochin

Specific details of new routes between Abu Dhabi and India and codeshare services with Jet Airways will be announced progressively, as approvals are received and operational details are finalised.

Separately, Jet Airways is set to move its international scissors hub for services to the United States to Abu Dhabi from Brussels. Jet will launch Mumbai-Abu Dhabi-Newark, Bangalore-Abu Dhabi-Chicago, and Delhi-Abu Dhabi-New York JFK. Interestingly, no mention has yet been made of services to Toronto, which Jet Airways currently serves as the final leg of its New Delhi – Brussels – Toronto services. However, Toronto-India traffic is notoriously low yielding. Furthermore, the UAE and Canada have a tense bilateral agreement, so it’s likely that Jet might not even be allowed to operate to Toronto via Abu Dhabi.

Either way, the massive expansion from Jetihad brings the carrier to parity in the Indian market with Middle Eastern rival Emirates, who generates 12% of its network traffic from India. As the Jetihad partnership continues to solidify, expect to see more Indian expansion from both carriers.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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