By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi carrier will add more than 4,500 seats per week to Australian city from August amid strong demand
Etihad Airways on Monday announced plans for a second daily non-stop service between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne from August 1, 2015.
The additional flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and will add more than 4,500 seats per week to the route, supporting strong two-way demand.
It will also double the airline's freight handling capacity providing new opportunities for trade, the airline said in a statement.
James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways, said: "We commenced flights to Melbourne in 2009 and it has since become one of the strongest routes on our network.
"Together with Virgin Australia and our other partner airlines, we have built a large and loyal customer base which has asked us for more choice. Today, I'm pleased to answer that call by announcing a doubling of our award-winning services to Melbourne.
"Significantly, we will be the only airline offering double daily non-stop flights between Melbourne and the UAE, and twice daily one-stop services to a vast network of business and leisure destinations worldwide."
Tourism and Major Events Minister John Eren welcomed the announcement, saying: "Attracting new airline services is a longstanding and continuing priority for the Victorian Government as we seek to grow tourism across Melbourne and regional Victoria.
"Etihad Airways' announcement represents another vote of confidence in Victoria as a leading tourism destination and will deliver greater choice for leisure and business travellers."
Since Etihad started daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne in March 2009 the airline has carried more than 900,000 passengers on the route.
The new double daily schedule for Melbourne increases to 42 the total number of flights the airline operates between its four Australian gateways and its Abu Dhabi hub in conjunction with partner airline Virgin Australia.
This includes double daily flights to Sydney and daily services to Brisbane and Perth.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.