Etihad Airways is to increase its flying programme from Australia following the success of its Sydney service.
The airline will move in March 2008 from seven flights to 11 a week from Sydney to Abu Dhabi. News of the uplift follows the recent announcement that the airline will launch in September its second Australian destination, Brisbane.
The flight frequency rises result from Etihad’s Sydney service performing exceptionally well since its launch in March. More than 40,000 passengers have flown on the Sydney-Abu Dhabi route with a 68 per cent seat factor in economy, 85 per cent in business and 78 per cent in first class.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive officer, said: “Sydney has been Etihad’s most successful launch since the airline began in 2003, which has resulted in us expanding our Australian operation with the launch of Brisbane at the end of September and the increase of our Sydney services next year.”
The airline carried more than 1.9 million passengers in the first six months of 2007, compared to 900,000 for the same period in 2006, an increase of 111 per cent.
Average seat factors of 65 per cent were experienced for the January to June period throughout the airline’s global network.
Sydney Airport CEO, Russell Balding, congratulated Etihad on the additional services.
“Since it commenced flying to Sydney Airport in March, Etihad has proven to be very popular with passengers. Etihad has made a very positive contribution to the development of the Australian aviation market. The extra flights confirm Sydney Airport as the national gateway and emphasise again the importance of Sydney Airport to the economic performance of Sydney and NSW.
“The success of Etihad, and its commitment to build its presence in Sydney, is very good news for the tourism industry and for the increasing number of Australians who want to travel internationally. Sydney’s tourism industries will welcome the thousands of additional visitors that Etihad will fly into Sydney each year.”
As part of Etihad’s continued growth, the airline has started flights from its Abu Dhabi base to Milan and will start services to Brisbane, Singapore, and Kathmandu in the next two months.