Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways announced that it is expanding its Saudi Arabian network through codeshare partner flynas.
The Saudi airline will begin a new five-times-per-week service between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi from December 16, 2015, a statement said. Etihad currently operates 13 weekly flights between the two cities.
The new flights will be operated by a two-class Airbus A320 aircraft, offering an additional 1,640 seats per week.
Etihad Airways’ chief strategy and planning officer Kevin Knight said: “Riyadh is an important strategic destination for us due to the established cultural and commercial ties between the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“The new flynas Riyadh service will strengthen our Saudi Arabian network further, but more importantly, it will give business and leisure travellers greater choice and better flight connections in their travel to Abu Dhabi and on to Etihad Airways’ worldwide network.”
The move comes as part of an expanded codeshare agreement between the two airlines, which was initially signed in October 2012.
The current codeshare scope allows flynas to place its ‘XY’ code on 226 Etihad flights between Abu Dhabi and 20 destinations around the world.
NAS Holding chief executive Bander Al Mohanna said: “Flynas continues to expand across the region and by adding Abu Dhabi to our GCC route network, we are significantly increasing both capacity and choice for travellers, including pilgrims as well as business commuters and leisure seekers.”
Etihad launched services to Riyadh in December 2004 and presently offers 46 flights per week between Abu Dhabi and the Saudi Arabian cities of Jeddah, Damman, Riyadh and Medina. Services are often increased to 55 flights per week on temporary operating permits, it said.
The rapidly expanding airline is focussing on codeshare partnerships, minority equity investments and organic growth to increase its network.
Etihad now has 49 codeshare agreements with airlines across the world, giving it a combined passenger and cargo network of 600 destinations and over 25,200 flights per week.