Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is expanding its Saudi Arabian network through a new five-times-per-week service between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi operated by its codeshare partner flynas.
Commencing on 16 December 2015, the new flynas service will complement Etihad Airways’ existing 13 weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, to provide guests with 18 weekly flights and greater choice and flexibility whether travelling from Saudi Arabia, the UAE or beyond.
The flights will be operated by a two-class Airbus A320 aircraft, offering an additional 1,640 seats per week, and ensuring maximum connectivity through Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub to key destinations in North America and the Indian Subcontinent.
This 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 Airways’ flights between Abu Dhabi and 20 destinations around the world.
These include Amsterdam, Brussels, Casablanca, Dammam, Geneva, Islamabad, Jakarta, Jeddah, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, London, Manchester, Medina, Paris, Riyadh, São Paulo, Seychelles, Singapore, Zurich, and subsequently on flights operating to the Indian Subcontinent over the coming months, subject to regulatory approvals.
Kevin Knight, Etihad Airways’ Chief Strategy and Planning Officer, said: “Riyadh is an important strategic destination for us due to the established cultural and commercial ties between the UAE 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.”
Bander Al Mohanna, NAS Holding CEO, said: “We are delighted to partner with Etihad Airways to add Abu Dhabi to flynas’ destinations within the GCC. 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. Moreover, we expect the mix of people travelling on the Abu Dhabi route to include flynas’ guests in transit to other destinations, which will substantially increase the volume of codeshare traffic.”
Etihad Airways has 49 codeshare agreements in place with airlines across the world, including flynas, which gives it a combined passenger and cargo network of 600 destinations, and over 25,200 flights per week, more than any other Middle Eastern airline. Codeshare partnerships, along with minority equity investments and organic growth, form the three pillars of Etihad Airways expansion plans.
Etihad Airways launched services between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh in December 2004. The airline offers 46 flights per week between the UAE’s capital and the Saudi Arabian cities of Jeddah, Damman, Riyadh and Medina. Services are often increased to 55 flights per week on temporary operating permits.