By Andy Sambidge
Flag carrier signs codeshare agreement with Air Europa to start direct service to Madrid in late 2014
UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways and Spanish airline Air Europa have signed a codeshare agreement which will see both carriers significantly enhance access to and from Spain, the UAE and to destinations across globe.
Under the terms of the agreement and subject to regulatory approvals, Air Europa plans to start a three times a week direct service between Madrid and Abu Dhabi in late 2014.
Etihad Airways said in a statement that it will place its EY flight code on the new Airbus A330 operated flights, offering direct access to Madrid for the first time through its Abu Dhabi hub.
The two airlines will work together in the run up to the route launch, with Etihad Airways initially placing its code on Air Europa-operated flights to Madrid from Amsterdam, Brussels and Milan Malpensa and beyond Madrid to Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, the statement added.
In return, Air Europa will place its UX flight code on Etihad Airways flights from Amsterdam, Brussels and Milan Malpensa to Abu Dhabi.
During the summer, both airlines said they plan to expand the number of codeshare destinations to include new cities in Spain and South America via Madrid, and more cities beyond Abu Dhabi across the Gulf region, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Etihad Airways' president and CEO, James Hogan, said: "The fact that Air Europa has chosen Abu Dhabi for the next wave of its international expansion, speaks volumes of what the emirate and our global hub have to offer.
"We have been keen to offer our customers direct access to the Spanish capital for a number of years, and doing this now in partnership with Air Europa makes perfect business sense. It is the right thing to do.
"The new route will support the growing trade volumes between the UAE and Spain, up 75 per cent over the last three years, introduce more Spanish business and leisure travellers to the world class city that is Abu Dhabi, not to mention, make access to Abu Dhabi, Madrid and numerous destinations across our combined networks easier than ever."
Juan José Hidalgo, Air Europa's president and CEO, added: "We have chosen Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways as the gateway to India, China, Australia and other destinations served in the Far East.
"As one of the most important operators to the American continent, especially Central and South America via our hub in Madrid, for Air Europa the agreement between the two airlines is a step forward in a global market.
"Both airlines will provide an excellent link between America and Asia via Madrid and Abu Dhabi."
All of the codeshare operations announced will be implemented once regulatory approvals are received and the launch date of the new Madrid-Abu Dhabi service will be confirmed in the coming weeks.For all the latest travel 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.