By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi carrier says service is part of planned expansion in Indian subcontinent
Etihad Airways has launched flights between Abu Dhabi and Ahmedabad, India's fifth largest city and former capital of the Indian state of Gujarat.
Etihad said in a statement that it now flies to nine Indian destinations including New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kochi - a total of 59 flights per week.
Etihad's president and CEO, James Hogan, said: "Etihad Airways is committed to serving the Indian market and people, whether in India or the diaspora. We are delighted to launch this new service and are committed to serving our customers in Guajarat.
"Our daily, two-class A320 service to Ahmedabad is another step in expanding our presence on the Indian subcontinent and connecting key strategic cities with Abu Dhabi.
"We are confident that the addition of the Ahmedabad service will further strengthen commercial and cultural ties between India and the UAE and will lead to continued strong growth in traffic flows between India, Abu Dhabi and beyond."
Etihad said last month it will look to extend its geographical reach in India and other Asian markets.
India decided to allow foreign airlines to buy stakes of up to 40 percent in local carriers last month, a move that came as a lifeline to the country's debt-ridden carriers.
Ailing Kingfisher Airlines, SpiceJet and Jet Airways are all said to be on a lookout for strategic investors.
The national airline of the UAE serves 85 passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, with a fleet of 67 aircraft, with another 100 on order.
Etihad also hold equity investments in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus.