Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is substantially increasing and upgrading flights to key cities in the Indian subcontinent.
Starting from January 1, 2013 flights to the southern Indian city of Kozhikode will more than double, increasing from three to seven a week.
The Sri Lankan capital of Colombo will also be serviced by daily flights when services increase from four to seven per week starting from January 2, 2013.
These increases will coincide with the re-introduction of the Pearl Business class product on both routes to cater for the growing business and corporate demand and high-end leisure traffic.
The additional services will be operated by Airbus A320 aircraft fitted with 16 Pearl Business Class seats and will almost double capacity on both routes.
They will also improve the number of connections over the airline’s Abu Dhabi hub to over 370 connections a week for Kozhikode (representing an increase of 240 per cent) and 300 connections a week for Colombo (representing an increase of 170 per cent).
Additional key Etihad destinations, including Jeddah, Johannesburg, Lagos, Milan and Toronto, will be connected to Kozhikode while Geneva, Munich and Astana will be connected to Colombo.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “India and Sri Lanka are important destinations for us due to strong local demand and growing traffic beyond Abu Dhabi to many key destinations across our global network.
“Kozhikode and Colombo are fast growing cities that serve as major business and trade hubs with many of their inhabitants working in the Gulf region. We are confident that these additional flights will be immensely beneficial to them and will offer them more options to visit their families and relatives.”
Since the start of flights to Kozhikode in 2008, Etihad Airways has carried more than 180,000 passengers. The Colombo services were re-launched in January 2010 and have carried more than 200,000 passengers to date.
In addition to Kozhikode, the airline offers 56 flights per week connecting Abu Dhabi directly to eight key cities in India, namely Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Mumbai, New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram and most recently, Ahmedabad.