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Thu 7 Feb 2008 12:54 PM

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Etihad adds four Indian cities to service

Chennai, Jaipur, Kolkata and Kozhikode added to carrier's routes after restriction lifted.

Four major Indian cities have been added to Etihad Airways’ flight route, after a restriction on flights between the countries was relaxed this week.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier will now fly to Chennai, Jaipur, Kolkata and Kozhikode, James Hogan, chief executive at Etihad, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The access to the new routes was granted following talks this week between the UAE and Indian governments, aimed at opening airline links between the countries.

Etihad had proposed the increase in the number of Indian destinations in October, but was constrained by an inter-government bilateral air treaty allowing the airline to operate only 28 flights a week to India.

The carrier has not finalised when the services to the new destinations will launch.

Etihad also intends to develop its Indian service to include Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore and Hyderabad, Hogan said.

Currently Etihad operates daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai, New Delhi, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.

In October Etihad announced it carried more than 3.3 million passengers during the first nine months of 2007, compared to 1.95 million for the same period in 2006, an increase of 70%.

The airline had average seat factors of 75% across its network of 45 destinations during the third quarter of 2007, representing an increase of 9% compared to 2006.

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