Etihad Airways is doubling its flights between Abu Dhabi and India with plans for routes to new cities in the southern part of the country. The change is subject to agreement between the governments of the United Arab Emirates and India to increase the number of flights, according to Etihad Regional Manager for the Asia Pacific, Charles Phelps-Penry.
“We are also exploring the possibilities of adding three more cities from the south,” Penry said, adding that airlines had zeroed in on Hyderabad, Kochi, Thiruvananthpuram, Bangalore and Chennai.
At present, Etihad operates ten flights, seven connecting Abu Dhabi with Mumbai and three with Delhi.
Apart from plans to increase the number of flights, the airline is also in talks with new Indian carriers for an inter-line relationship for selling tickets through each others networks.
“Already we have agreements with Air-India, Air Sahara and we will also talk to Kingfisher and SpiceJet for similar agreements,” Penry added.
Identifying India as a key market for its future growth, Penry told reporters that Etihad expects revenues from the country to contribute about 15 per cent in future, up from the current eight per cent.
The airline is also expanding expand to the west with daily flights to New York’s JFK airport, Terminal 4 come October.
Test on the A380
Pilots from the airline have also had their first chance to take control of the new superjumbo A380. The Etihad-branded Airbus plane has been conducting hot weather testing in Al Ain throughout the last week.
Etihad has four A380s on order, which forms part of an $8 billion deal for new Airbus aircraft that was signed in 2004.
Rolling out e-ticketing
The airline has now introduced e-ticketing for Abu Dhabi, Brussels, Toronto, Bangkok, Mumbai and New Delhi and will be launched across the network by the end of 2006.
“E-ticketing will enable Etihad to enhance the relationship with our guests by simplifying the way they organise and book their travel,” says Peter Baumgartner, Head of Marketing, Etihad Airways.
Etihad has implemented the e-ticketing system following a four-month, fast-track project, which has gained praise from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and system providers, Amadeus.
Etihad Airways has also been nominated this year for a
World Travel Award as Middle East’s Leading Airline.
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