Etihad Airways adds flights to Pakistan, Sudan

Abu Dhabi carrier also announces plan to upgrade services to Nigeria from March 31

Etihad Airways has announced an increase in flights on routes to Pakistan and Sudan, with plans for more flights to Nigeria next month.

The Abu Dhabi airline has said that flights to the northern Pakistan city of Lahore have grown from seven to 11 a week.

With the addition of the new services, Etihad Airways will now offer 27 weekly flights from four destinations in Pakistan which, along with Lahore, include Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawar.

The additional services will be operated by A320 aircraft and will increase capacity by 21 percent on the route, Etihad said in a statement.

Kevin Knight, Etihad Airways' chief strategy and planning officer, said: "The addition of the new flights will further strengthen commercial and cultural ties between Pakistan and the UAE and will lead to continued strong growth in traffic flows between Lahore, Abu Dhabi and beyond to many key destinations across our global network."

Since the start of flights to Lahore in 2006, Etihad Airways has carried more than one million passengers on this route.

Etihad also announced that it has increased its Khartoum services from five flights per week to a daily schedule.

Etihad launched its services to the Sudanese capital in July 2006 with an initial three flights per week.

The new services on Thursdays and Saturdays aim to cater to the growing passenger demand between Sudan and Abu Dhabi, the airline said.

The carrier also said it would upgrade its Lagos service to daily to meet growing demand from passengers travelling to and from Nigeria.

The airline initially launched its service between Lagos, West Africa's most populous city, and Abu Dhabi on July 1, 2012, with six flights a week. The new daily service will be introduced on March 31.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad this month said full-year net profits for 2012 increased 200 percent to $42m, as it carried more passengers and pushed ahead with strategic alliances with other international carriers.

The carrier, which has expanded globally through stake purchases in the likes of airberlin and Virgin Australia, said revenue increased 17 percent to $4.8bn, while passengers rose 23 percent to 10.3m.

Etihad Airways, which posted profits of $14m for 2011, is looking to extend its geographical reach as it competes against Qatar Airways and Dubai’s Emirates Airline.

The airline is currently in talks with Jet Airways to purchase a stake in the Indian airline and recently doubled its stake in Virgin Australia to 10 percent.

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