Etihad Airways announced (19-Sep-2013) plans to "greatly increase" options for travel to/from India, introducing more services and widebody aircraft by the end of 2013 and further increasing capacity on existing routes and launching new routes in 2014, subject to regulatory approval. From 01-Nov-2013, Etihad Airways plans to more than triple the number of seats it now offers on Abu Dhabi–Mumbai and Abu Dhabi–New Delhi routes, "reflecting the growing importance of the Indian market". Etihad Airways president and CEO 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-Dec-2013, Etihad Airways plans to:
- Increase from daily to double-daily Abu Dhabi-Mumbai and Abu Dhabi-New Delhi frequency;
- Use widebody A340-600 aircraft on one of the daily Abu Dhabi–Mumbai services, offering first, business and economy classes;
- Use widebody A330-200 aircraft on one daily Abu Dhabi-New Delhi services, offering business and economy class;
- Upgrade daily Abu Dhabi–Chennai service from 136-seat A320 to new 174-seat A321s.
Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad also intends to codeshare on a wide range of flights operated within India by Jet Airways. 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. [more - original PR]