Etihad Airways today announced it would increase capacity by close to 60 per cent on its Manchester services from June, upgrading its current two-class A330-200 aircraft to a two-class B777-300.
Etihad currently operates seven return services per week between Manchester and Abu Dhabi, with onward connections to Etihad’s expanding global network, including popular destinations Sydney, Melbourne, Bangkok, Cape Town and Islamabad. The capacity increase will mean an additional 2,100 seats per week on the route.
Peter Baumgartner, Etihad’s chief commercial officer, said: “Our services to Manchester have been performing very strongly, with load factors of close to 80 per cent in 2009. The business and investment ties between Manchester and Abu Dhabi have never been stronger and the introduction of the B777 furthers our commitment to this important route.
“We are pleased to support business and leisure travel to the region, as well as offering our customers greater access to Abu Dhabi and our expanding global network.”
Andrew Cornish, Manchester Airport’s Managing Director, said: “Etihad’s service provides a crucial link between our two closely-linked regions and Etihad’s decision to add capacity demonstrates real confidence in this vital relationship. The extra capacity further strengthens Manchester Airport’s long haul route network and also provides an early sign of the predicted economic recovery. We look forward to working with Etihad to make the service a great success.”
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester and Abu Dhabi have developed a significant partnership over the past few years and our business, cultural and sporting ties are delivering real benefits to both places. Etihad’s continued investment in the route is a ringing endorsement of that partnership and this latest announcement of an enhanced service demonstrates the increasingly strong ties between the regions.
Etihad has been operating services to Manchester since 2006 and offers connections from Manchester to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow with its codeshare partner, bmi and from Manchester to Isle of Man, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Southampton and Inverness with its codeshare partner, Flybe.
In 2009, the airline signed a three-year deal to be the official shirt sponsor and partner of English Premier League side, Manchester City. This is one of the airline’s most important sponsorships, and allows the airline to build even stronger relationships between the two regions, including team tours to the United Arab Emirates, as well as community-based schemes in the UAE and Manchester such as the hugely successful Soccer Schools.
Etihad currently has six B777-300s in its fleet of 53 aircraft.