Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways plans to expand operations to India, and will introduce more flights and wide-bodied jets to the country by the end of this year, it said in a statement.
The carrier also aims to launch new Indian routes next year, subject to regulatory approval.
The move comes after the Indian government approved a bilateral air services agreement with the UAE to increase the number of seats between the two nations over the next three years.
Under the accord, the two countries will be allowed to add 50,000 seats each week on designated flights until 2015, up four-fold from the existing 13,700.
James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad said: “India is one of the world’s fastest-growing destinations, and a key market in the growth strategy of Etihad Airways.
“Following the recent signing of a new air services agreement between India and the UAE, we now have the opportunity to add significant capacity between the two countries, not only meeting existing demand for trade and tourist travel but also ensuring that we can meet the continued strong growth which is expected between our two countries.”
From November 1 2013, Etihad plans to more than triple the number of seats it now offers on the Abu Dhabi – Mumbai and Abu Dhabi – New Delhi routes. The airline also aims to increase from daily to double daily its Abu Dhabi-Mumbai and Abu Dhabi-New Delhi flights by the end of this year.
Etihad is currently in the process of completing its much-delayed $379 million acquisition of a 24 per cent stake in India’s Jet Airways.
“Subject to regulatory approval, Etihad also intends to codeshare on a wide range of flights operated within India by Jet Airways,” Etihad’s statement said.
“Specific details of new routes between Abu Dhabi and India and codeshare services with Jet Airways will be announced progressively, as approvals are received and operational details are finalised.”