Abu Dhabi carrier announces plans to substantially increase flights to key cities
Etihad Airways has announced plans to substantially increase and upgrade services 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 carrier said in a statement.
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, it added.
The increase in flights to the subcontinent comes just days after it was reported Etihad was in talks to buy a 24 percent stake in India's Jet Airways in a deal worth $400m.
In October, Etihad, Abu Dhabi's flag carrier which has expanded globally through stake purchases in firms like Air Berlin and Virgin Australia, said it was looking to extend its geographical reach to India and other Asian markets.
The 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 airline said the additional services will be operated by Airbus A320 aircraft and will almost double capacity on both routes.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ president and CEO, 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 - Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Mumbai, New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram and most recently, Ahmedabad.