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Etihad Airways to commence Los Angeles flights using Air India 777-200LRs?

by Devesh Agarwal

Etihad Airways Boeing 777-300ER

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), today announced the launch of direct non stop flights between its home base of Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Los Angeles, California, USA (LAX), from June 1, 2014, subject to regulatory approvals.

The announcement goes on to say,

Etihad will deploy a three class ultra-long haul (ULH) Boeing 777-200LR on the Los Angeles route. The aircraft will be configured to carry 237 guests, with 8 Diamond First Class suites, 40 Pearl Business Class flatbed seats, and 189 Coral Economy Class seats.

This is interesting since the airline does not have any 777-200LR’s in its fleet, nor does it have any on order with airframer Boeing. It appears that Etihad will commence the Los Angeles services using 777-200LR (77L) aircraft it is expected to buy from national carrier Air India which has been trying to sell five of its 77Ls for some time now, without success

The purchase of the 77Ls could be a quid-pro-quo on the part of the UAE government for the recent approval of the 400% increase in seat allocation between India and Abu Dhabi under the bilateral air services agreement (BASA) and approval of the 24% stake purchase by Etihad in Jet Airways.

The Air India 77Ls are configured in an eight first class (non-suite), 35 business class and 195 economy class cabin, and this will imply that Etihad re-configure and upgrade the cabin to its specifications after completing the purchase.

When compared to fellow UAE carrier Emirates’ 77L configuration of 8/42/216 seats, it appears that Etihad will opt for a more comfortable nine-abreast economy class configuration.

Schedule

Flight EY171 will depart daily from Abu Dhabi at 08:45 and arrive in Los Angeles at 14:15 the same day. The return flight, EY170, will the depart Los Angeles at 16:15 and arrive in Abu Dhabi at 19:35 the following day. The timings are designed to provide onward connectivity to the Indian sub-continent.

Los Angeles will be the airline’s fourth destination in the United States, joining Chicago, New York and Washington D.C, all of which see a daily non stop from Abu Dhabi.

Etihad Airways will extend its code-share partnership, in place since September 2009, with American Airlines on the Los Angeles flights. Etihad markets its EY code on American flights through its current gateways of Chicago, New York and Washington DC to more than 70 US cities. American places its AA code on all Etihad Airways flights between the US and UAE.

Visit the Etihad for more details.

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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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