Etihad Airways is to increase its flying programme by 21 per cent at the end of October when the airline will also bid to attract more travellers with the introduction of new flight timings to improve connecting services.
To that end, the airline has added three new Airbus A320 to its fleet.
The airline will boost its weekly flights from 564 to 716 for the global aviation industry’s winter season which starts on October 28.
The extra flights will improve 17 routes across Etihad’s global network including Bahrain, which doubles from 14 to 28 flights a week and Muscat jumps from seven to 21 flights a week.
Etihad’s strong network across the Middle East will be strengthened further with increases on routes to Doha, from seven to 14 flights a week, Amman from six to daily and Damascus from five to daily.
Etihad flights to Frankfurt will increase from seven to 10 a week, Geneva moves from three to four flights a week, Dublin goes from four to six flights a week and London Heathrow rises from 14 to 19 flights a week.
“Customers will benefit tremendously with the extra number of flights and a much improved timetable which will see better, shorter and more frequent flight transfer connections at our Abu Dhabi base,” said Etihad chief executive James Hogan.
“By adding depth and frequency to our expanding route network we are able to offer a simpler, more convenient travel experience for the flying public.”
The airline has purchased one Airbus A320 and leased two others, adding the first narrow-bodied aircraft to its fleet as it expands its regional flights, a statement said.
The three A320s will be added to its fleet in September and October, while three more of the aircraft would be added in the first quarter of 2008, Etihad said.
'Narrow-body aircraft are ideally suited to our growing Middle East and short-haul network, and it will allow us to redeploy the wide-body aircraft,' Hogan said.
Etihad has a fleet of 27 wide-bodied aircraft. It ordered 12 Airbus wide-bodied aircraft in a deal worth $2.4 billion in June.
In related news, Etihad announced it had carried more than 1.9 million passengers in the first six months of 2007, compared to 900,000 for the same period in 2006, an increase of 111 per cent.
The airline experienced average seat factors of 65 per cent for the January to June period. The year-on-year seat factor increase of 20 per cent is a result of Etihad’s continued expansion of its global flight network and the addition of five new aircraft to its fleet.
Etihad’s revenue per available seat kilometre, where airlines measure their commercial efficiency, soared by 31 per cent.
“The growth achieved in the first half of 2007 demonstrates the impact Etihad is having within the highly competitive airline industry and to carry a million more passengers this year, compared with the same period in 2006, is a phenomenal achievement,” said Hogan.
Many of Etihad’s routes have achieved record passenger numbers in economy class. This includes aircraft which were 87 per cent full on the Toronto service, 92 per cent full on the Manila service and 74 per cent full on the Damascus service.
Etihad’s business class has also seen impressive figures in the first six months of 2007 with seat factor on its London Heathrow flight achieving an average of 76 per cent and Bangkok achieving 72 per cent. Following its launch in March, Etihad’s Sydney service has performed exceptionally well achieving a 68 per cent seat factor in economy, 85 per cent in business and 78 per cent in first class. More than 40,000 passengers have flown on the Abu Dhabi-Sydney sector.
Etihad’s flights to Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi in Kerala have posted figures of more than 75 per cent seat factor since they started at the end of May.
New destinations from Abu Dhabi to Milan, Brisbane, Singapore and Kathmandu will join Etihad’s expanding flight network in the next few months.
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