Etihad Airways has emphasised the importance of Italy to its global flight network and outlined plans to increase flights to the country, following a visit to Abu Dhabi by the Italian tourism minister.
Her Excellency Michela Brambilla visited the UAE capital as part of a top level trade delegation, aimed at strengthening trade links between the two countries. The newly-appointed Italian tourism minister led a delegation of Italian government representatives and tour operators.
The minister met with senior executives from Abu Dhabi’s tourism and hospitality industry during a series of business meetings held at the Emirates Palace hotel and hosted by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).
Geert Boven, Etihad Airways’ executive vice president sales and services, outlined to the Italian delegation the airline’s expansion plans, including a forthcoming increase in the number of flights between Abu Dhabi and Milan. During the presentation, Mr Boven cited Milan as one of the airline’s greatest ‘success stories’, highlighting the 55,000 passengers that were carried on the route since it was launched in September 2007.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline is set to boost its services to Italy from March 29, 2009 when it will increase its flights from three to five per week between its home base and Milan Malpensa airport.
Mr Boven said: “Our Milan service has proved to be one of the airline’s most successful route launches to date. Since launching flights to the city in September 2007, we have seen phenomenal traffic growth, not just in passenger numbers but also in cargo.
“The increase in our Italian flights follows a record year for the airline, with more than 55,000 passengers flying between Abu Dhabi and Milan and seat factors currently averaging 85 per cent.”
Etihad Airways currently operates three flights per week between Abu Dhabi and Milan. From March 29, this will increase to five weekly flights.