Etihad Airways is starting daily services to Kolkata (February 15), Madrid (March 29), Entebbe (May 1) and Edinburgh (June 8) next year along with four-times weekly services to Hong Kong (June 15) and three-times weekly flights to Algiers (June 17).
The Abu Dhabi carrier’s existing daily flights to Brisbane, currently operated via Singapore, will become a direct service from June next year, offering the first non-stop connection between the city and Abu Dhabi, operated by a three-class Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Further service upgrades in June next year include the introduction of a three-class Airbus A330-300 aircraft on daily flights to Singapore, and a three-class Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on daytime flights to Moscow, marking the debut of first class cabins on both of the existing routes.
James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways, said the six new destinations have been selected to expand its coverage in Europe, Asia and Africa markets.
He said the expansion will also create new opportunities to enhance codeshare agreements and align operations with key airline partners, such as Virgin Australia, Jet Airways, Air Seychelles, Air Europa and Kenya Airways. Between Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong, for instance, the four weekly flights will combine with Air Seychelles’ three weekly flights to provide a daily frequency.
The routes will raise competition with Emirates and Qatar Airways, which fly to all six destinations, but are good news for Gulf and international travellers who now have more choice and scheduling options.
Etihad Airways’ global passenger and cargo network will increase to 107 destinations following the route expansion in the first half of 2015. The total includes five new routes already launched this year to Medina, Jaipur, Zurich, Los Angeles and Yerevan, together with four upcoming services to Perth, Rome, Phuket and Dallas, which commence over the remainder of 2014.
The airline will also continue to increase frequencies on existing services in the first half of next year, increasing network coverage in the US, Middle East and Indian subcontinent regions.
Nine aircraft are scheduled for delivery in the first half of next year, comprising three Airbus A380s, three Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and three A320 family aircraft. The airline currently has 102 aircraft in its fleet, with over 210 additional aircraft on firm order, plus options and purchase rights for 81 further aircraft.