Etihad Airways Set For Next Phase Of India Growth Plan

July 02-Etihad Airways will provide travelers with even more connections between India, the UAE and other key markets around the world, following a major service upgrade to Cochin, Bangalore, Chennai, Kozhikode and Hyderabad this summer.

Due to strong demand from business and leisure travelers, a double-daily frequency will be operated to Bangalore, Chennai and Kozhikode from Tuesday, and Hyderabad from October 1. As a result, guests have the option of daytime or overnight flights, and improved connections between India and key markets in the GCC, Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America.

Double-daily frequencies were also introduced to Cochin route last month, as well as Mumbai and New Delhi in November 2013, supporting a long-term development plan in India.

The airline will utilise new Airbus A320s, scheduled for delivery this year, to accommodate much of the increased frequencies. Larger wide-body aircraft were also introduced on selected routes in November 2013, with a three-class A340 on overnight Mumbai flights, marking the debut of Etihad Airways' First Class product on the route, and A330s on overnight Delhi flights.

Cochin flights have also been upgraded with the recent introduction of new Airbus A321 aircraft, while overnight Delhi flights will be further enhanced with three-class Boeing 777 from 15 July.

In addition to the seven existing or planned double-daily services, Etihad Airways operates daily to Ahmedabad, Trivandrum and most recently, Jaipur, where flights commenced in April 2014.

James Hogan, president and chief executive officer of Etihad Airways, said: "As one of the largest, fastest-growing and most exciting travel markets in the world, India continues to play an important role in our growth plans. Last year alone, more than 885,000 people flew on our Indian services, a substantial increase of 20 per cent on the previous year.

"Subject to regulatory approvals, we will continue to expand our India operations and work with Jet Airways to accommodate strong growth and deliver much greater choice for travel to and from India." Last month, Etihad Airways also announced a significant expansion of its code-share agreement with Jet Airways, after the two airlines obtained regulatory approval to codeshare on 43 additional routes, bringing the total number of services in their code-share agreement to 71.

As part of the expansion, Etihad Airways has placed its 'EY' code on domestic services in India for the first time, with the codeshare agreement now including 31 Jet Airways routes from hubs in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore to regional centres in Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Cochin, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Patna, Trivandrum and Vadodara.

Also included are Jet Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad, and Etihad Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Cochin, Kozhikode, Mumbai, New Delhi and Trivandrum.

Hogan added: "This code-share expansion was a milestone development for both airlines. In addition to placing our 'EY' code on domestic flights within India for the first time, the agreement now incorporates more services between Abu Dhabi and India than ever before, benefitting travelers with enhanced network reach, more frequent services, and increased convenience."

The new codeshare routes are now available for sale and enable members of the integrated Etihad Guest and JetPrivilege frequent flyer programs to earn and redeem miles, while also benefitting from reciprocal tier level recognition across the global networks of both airlines.

Etihad Airways began operations in 2003 and carried 11.5 million passengers last year. The airline flies to 103 existing or announced passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. It has a fleet of 102 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and more than 220 aircraft on firm order. The carrier also holds equity investments in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia, Aer Lingus, Air Serbia and Jet Airways, and is in the process of formalising its equity investment in Swiss-based Etihad Regional*.

Copyright 2014 - Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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