Etihad Airways has launched daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Chennai (Madras) and Kozhikode (Calicut). The new services increase the number of Indian destinations served by Etihad to six. It also brings the total number of global destinations now served by the Abu Dhabi-based airline to 47, a number which will rise to 50 by the end of 2008 with the launch of new services to Minsk in Belarus, Moscow in Russia and Almaty in Kazhakstan. The airline also plans to add Melbourne in Australia to its route network early in 2009.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said, “India is an enormously important market for Etihad and one we are very keen to expand further. The appetite for air travel between Abu Dhabi and India shows no sign of relenting and we hope to grow our Indian flying programme even further in the future.”
The coastal city of Kozhikode becomes Etihad’s third destination in Kerala, adding to its successful flights from Abu Dhabi to Kochi (Cochin) and state capital, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). Chennai is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal and is the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Etihad now operates 42 flights a week from the UAE to India, with flights from Abu Dhabi also serving the commercial capital Mumbai and the national capital New Delhi.
The airline has already secured flying rights to two further cities in India, Kolkata (Calcutta) and Jaipur, following successful bi-lateral talks between the governments of the UAE and India, aimed at further liberalising flying links between the two countries. The airline is finalising the launch dates for these additional destinations, with the new services set to start in early 2009.
Subject to future governmental approvals, the airline also hopes to secure further traffic rights from Abu Dhabi to Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
The new additional 14 weekly Indian flights are part of Etihad’s expanded summer schedule which offers air travellers a greater choice of services and improved flight connections and is almost 50% larger than the same period last year. The airline now operates a total of 728 weekly flights compared to 494 in the same season last year.
Etihad operates a two class Airbus A320 on the daily Kozhikode and Chennai services, configured to carry 140 passengers with 20 in business class and 120 in economy class.
Flight EY250 departs Abu Dhabi at 11.35pm and arrives in Kozhikode at 5am the next day. Return flight EY251 departs Kozhikode at 5.45am arriving in Abu Dhabi at 8am the same day.
The new Chennai service operate as flight EY266 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, departing Abu Dhabi at 8.50am and arriving in Chennai at 2.30pm. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the service operates as flight EY268, departing Abu Dhabi at 1.45pm and arriving in Chennai at 7.25pm.
Return flight EY267 departs Chennai on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 3.15pm, arriving in Abu Dhabi at 5.45pm the same day. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the service operates as flight EY269, departing Chennai at 8.20pm and arriving in the UAE capital at 10.50pm.