Etihad plans major expansion

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is planning to largely expand its flight network worldwide in 2014 as it pursues a strategy to create more joint ventures with major global carriers, the company’s chief executive officer said.

James Hogan said a new joint venture is launched by the state-owned firm Etihad Airways, which he described as the company’s latest ground-breaking venture.

He said Etihad Regional is a new carrier operated by Switzerland’s Darwin Airline and opens up an “exciting world of opportunity and flexibility for our guests”.
Writing in the company’s Etihadinflight monthly magazine, he said that the venture currently offers flights to 15 destinations in Europe but added that by the middle of this year that figure will rise to 34.

“We are building a strong regional airline that will link European cities and provincial centres, as well as connect to the broader and rapidly expanding global network of Etihad Airways through seven European gateways of Amsterdam, Belgrade, Düsseldorf, Geneva, Paris, Rome (from July), and Zurich (from June).”

Hogan said the Etihad Regional network would also connect with the company’s equity alliance partner Airberlin in Berlin, Düsseldorf, and Zurich, providing onward connectivity to destinations in Europe and North America.

“Our strategically important relationship with Airberlin continues to go from strength to strength. We recently launched a joint advertising campaign and unveiled a jointly branded Airbus A320 aircraft to symbolise our close and harmonious ties with the German airline, which became the first member of the Etihad Airways equity alliance in December 2011 when we purchased a 29 per cent stake,” he said.

“Our joint worldwide network -- currently 228 destinations in 84 countries – will be further bolstered with new destinations in India, Korea and Australia.”

In addition, the 42 weekly flights that Airberlin and Etihad Airways operate between Germany and Abu Dhabi will increase to 49 weekly flights when a second daily Munich flight commences this month, he added.

He said this month also saw the launch of daily Etihad Airways flights to Medina – one of eight new routes scheduled for 2014—and that daily flights to Jaipur will begin in April, followed by daily flights to Los Angeles and Zurich in June.

He said Etihad would also begin four new weekly flights to Yerevan and daily flights to Rome and Perth in July while in December it will start three weekly flights to Dallas.

On the subject of US flights, he said services between Abu Dhabi and NewYork will double with the introduction of a second daily service from March 1.

 The new flights will initially be operated by Etihad Airways, using aircraft leased from its fellow equity alliance partner Jet Airways, in which Etihad holds a 24 per cent stake. Then, from May 1. Jet Airways will operate the flights,  Hogan said, adding that the new Abu Dhabi – New York flight has been scheduled to connect with Etihad Airways and Jet Airways evening services arriving from four key Indian cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Cochin and Chennai.

He said flights arriving from New York will also connect from Abu Dhabi to these cities while the second New York service will also substantially increase connections available via Abu Dhabi with more than 30 destinations that include not only India but the Middle East, Central and South East Asia, Africa and island nations in the Indian Ocean region.
 

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