Etihad Airways is to boost its flying programme to India with the addition of four new major cities, Chennai (Madras), Jaipur, Kolkata (Calcutta) and Kozhikode (Calicut) to its expanding global network.The decision follows successful bi-lateral talks earlier this week between the governments of the UAE and India, aimed at further liberalising flying links between the two countries.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline is now finalising exactly when these services will launch.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said, “Etihad is always keen to build up its Indian services and we are thrilled to have been given the rights to serve four new cities in this exciting market.
“I would like to pay tribute to both the UAE and Indian governments, particularly the Department of Transport of Abu Dhabi, for their enlightened vision in further opening up air links between these two great nations and allowing Etihad to expand its services to these developing cities in India.”
As the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Chennai is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal and has an estimated population of 7.5 million people.
Kolkata is the state capital of West Bengal and the fourth largest city in India, with a metropolitan population of 15 million. The city is also a major commercial centre and home to India’s second largest bourse, the Calcutta Stock Exchange.
The coastal city of Kozhikode will be Etihad’s third destination in Kerala to add to its successful flights to Kochi (Cochin) and state capital, Thiruvananthapuram (Thrivandrum).
Known as the Pink City, Jaipur is the capital of the state of Rajasthan in Northern India. It has a growing population of more than 3.3 million people and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
At present, Etihad operates daily flights from Abu Dhabi to the commercial capital Mumbai and the national capital New Delhi as well as Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, both in the southern India state of Kerala.
Etihad had set its sights on eight cities in India for new air services from its base in Abu Dhabi with traffic rights to Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore and Hyderabad still to be gained.