Etihad Airways to expand operations in India


MUMBAI – Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad plans to expand its wings further across India with a view to benefit from the growing air passenger traffic in the world’s second-fastest growing major economy.

The airline is looking at adding a few more destinations in India besides adding capacity from Delhi and Mumbai, Etihad Airways sources said here.

“India, a fast-growing market, is very important for us. We are looking at a progressive but very reasonable increase in our services in years to come,” they told media.

The airline is evaluating cities such as Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Jaipur to add in its network, if it gets the required regulatory approvals, in the current calender year, they said.

“In addition, Goa is also on Etihad’s radar as another prospective destination. We are also mulling to reallocate some of the existing seats to the Mumbai and Delhi to scale up frequency from the two cities ” sources said.

Most of the Gulf airlines operating out of India had huge seat capacity under the air traffic rights, they said, adding “We are the one with least number of seats.”

Under the UAE-India air traffic rights bilateral agreement, Etihad can operate 13,330 seats per week on the India-Sharjah route. “UAE is negotiating with the Indian Government to increase the present allocation of seats. we hope it happens sooner than later,” they said.

According to an estimate, nearly 40 per cent of international air traffic from India is to the Gulf and West Asian countries. Last week, Etihad Airways Chief Executive James Hogan along with some senior executives had called on Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi and senior Ministry officials. The airline, howerver, termed it as a courtesy call.

As a part of its business stragey, the airline had last August appointed Bollywood star Katrina Kaif as its brand Ambassdor. Besides, it recently announced the extension of its luxury chauffeur services in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

With the addition of the low-cost carrier’s newly launched operations to Bangalore, Etihad now flies to eight Indian destinations with 49 flights a week. The other seven cities are New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kozhikode, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi.