Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways announced that it will begin daily services to Iran’s capital Tehran from April 15.
Etihad currently operates three flights a week between Abu Dhabi and Tehran.
The Airbus A320 Tehran service, which started in December 2006, provides 136 seats each way in a two cabin configuration, with 16 business class seats and 120 economy class seats.
The additional flights will add 1,088 new seats per week to the route, and will allow guests from Tehran to gain two-way connectivity to almost 50 markets on Etihad Airways’ global network, a statement said.
The increase to daily is the first step in Etihad’s phased network expansion to Iran, it added.
Kevin Knight, Etihad Airways’ chief strategy and planning officer, said: “We have been keen to increase the Tehran service to daily operations for some time and we’re delighted to make that move now ahead of the summer season.
“The expanded schedule will increase travel options for Iranian passengers visiting the UAE, as well as those wishing to access Etihad Airways’ global flight network.”
The new daily service is specifically expected to allow guests to make daily connections to markets such as New York, Washington DC, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Los Angeles in the US, which is home to the world’s largest Iranian diaspora.
Passengers on all Etihad flights to the US are also processed through US preclearance at Abu Dhabi airport. Hence those flying from Tehran will be able to pass through all required checks including US customs, immigration and security while in Abu Dhabi before they board their flight, the airline said.
UAE airlines have been focussing on increasing connections to Iran, with low-cost carrier flydubai also launching flights to the country in August last year.
While the airline initially began services to Tehran and Mashhad, it expanded routes to five more Iranian cities in February including Ahwaz, Hamadan, Isfahan, Shiraz and Tabriz.