Etihad Airways has set its sights on eight cities in India for new air services from its base in Abu Dhabi.
The airline’s chief executive James Hogan spent two days in New Delhi this week meeting Praful Patel, the Minister for Civil Aviation, and senior government officials to press the carrier’s view that there is a burgeoning yet unfulfilled demand for flights between India’s emerging cities and the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Etihad is currently constrained by an inter-government bilateral air treaty to operate just 28 flights a week from the UAE to India.
Mr Hogan said during his visit that the airline’s eight city ‘wishlist’ for new services from Abu Dhabi are, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderarbad, Calicut, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Jaipur and Kolkata.
‘There is a huge demand for air travel between the UAE and India and that desire is set to grow further as Abu Dhabi’s ambitious property and infrastructure developments move ahead.”
‘Liberalisation of aviation markets is bringing multiple benefits for both consumers and regional economies alike and I hope that Etihad Airways will be granted access to the emerging cities of India.’
Etihad currently operates daily flights from Abu Dhabi to the commercial capital Mumbai and national capital New Delhi and three-flights-per-week to Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and four to Kochi (Cochin). Both Kerala routes will increase to daily flights from October, bringing the number of weekly services flown by Etihad from Abu Dhabi to India to its ceiling of 28 flights.
During Mr Hogan’s two day stay in New Delhi he also met and the UAE Ambassador to India, HE Abdullah Ibrahim Al Shehhi and with senior representatives of the India travel trade.
Abu Dhabi and India enjoy strong and vibrant trade relations. The value of India’s exports to Abu Dhabi in 2006 was AED 880 million ($239 million), a 48 per cent jump on 2005 and a 137 pre cent leap on 2000.
Non-oil items exported from Abu Dhabi in 2006 to India were valued at AED 547 million ($149 million), a 114 per cent rise on 2005 and a huge increase of 782 per cent on 2000.
There are 655 Indian companies currently registered in Abu Dhabi and 400,000 non-resident Indians live in the emirate.
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