By Elizabeth Broomhall
Gulf carriers are increasing capacity into UK city for bigger share of long-haul traffic
Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi’s flagship carrier, has doubled the number of flights between the UAE capital and Manchester this week in a bid to boost its ties with the North West of England.
The state-backed airline will run 14 flights per week between the two cities, more than the 10 flights originally promised by Etihad at the start of the year.
The Gulf’s three largest carriers have poured capacity into the north English city of Manchester in a bid to win price-sensitive Asian traffic and direct it through their regional hubs.
The Gulf carriers are targeting northern England as part of a growth splurge aimed at challenging British Airways and other carriers specializing in long-distance transfer traffic.
Emirates said in March it would add a third daily flight from Manchester to Dubai, while Qatar Airways’ Doha route went double-daily from August 1.
Etihad’s route increase comes just weeks after the carrier announced a 10-year partnership deal with the Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City football club, worth $480m.
Etihad, whose name is on the team’s shirt and stadium, will also put its logo on projects including a new training ground and youth development centre.