Etihad Airways is to increase its flying programme this summer by 18 per cent. New routes will be launched by the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, extra flights will be added to existing services and six new wide bodied long haul jets will be introduced to boost the airline’s expanding global network.
Non stop flights from the carrier’s Abu Dhabi base will take off in March for the first time to Sydney in Australia, in August the Irish capital Dublin will be added to the airline’s network and flights will begin in September to Milan’s Malpensa airport.
Etihad’s summer flying programme will be boosted with an additional 40 weekly flights added to its current schedule from Abu Dhabi to the Indian Sub Continent (six extra), the Middle East and GCC (15 extra), Europe (five extra), the Far East (eight extra) and Africa (six extra), bringing its total up to 258 services a week.
Four new three class Airbus A330 jets and two new three class Airbus A340-600 aircraft will join the airline’s growing fleet throughout the summer months to cope with demand.
Shaikh Ahmed Bin Saif Al Nayhan, Etihad Airways’ chairman, said: “These are exciting times for both Etihad and Abu Dhabi. No long haul airline has grown as quickly from conception as we have and the airline has made great strides in just over three years.
“And we’re not going to stop here. We have more aircraft deliveries later this year and we’re actively pursuing opportunities in the winter from Abu Dhabi to the Middle East, Europe and Asia.”
James Hogan, the airline’s chief executive, added: “But running a successful airline isn’t just about buying planes and flying to new cities. The board of directors has now endorsed the company’s development plan for the next three years and the summer flight programme shows us continuing to develop the business on commercial principles.
“We’ve switched flight timings to offer better connections at Abu Dhabi for our customers and introduced extra frequencies on existing routes. This makes us, again, more attractive to the flying public and more viable as a business.
“As well as flying smarter we’ll work hard at Etihad Airways to address our cost base, our financial well-being, our brand, our future fleet plans and our service, both in the air and on the ground.
“And the changes at the airline will mirror the ambitious programme of change now underway in Abu Dhabi.
“The forward thinking emirate of Abu Dhabi is intrinsic to our development. It will be the home to a staggering investment of $136 billion in the next nine years as it grows and matures as a centre of excellence in both business and leisure.
“The recently announced plan to stage an Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2009 strongly demonstrates this ambition and it is our aim to be a pivotal player in Abu Dhabi’s success story.”