Thursday, May 24, 2007

Kerala flights signal big India plans for Etihad

UAE's national carrier Etihad Airways, which is starting flights to two Kerala cities next week, is set to expand further in the Indian market if it gets government approval, a senior official said.
Etihad Executive Vice President (Sales and Services) Geert Boven said Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad were all "in the airline's sight," as the carrier prepares to launch flights on May 30 to Thiruvananthapuram and June 2 to Kochi.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline in March held talks with Indian authorities over new air rights, which resulted in the Kerala routes to offer 21 flights per week from Abu Dhabi to India.
"There are more than one million Indian citizens living in the UAE who are eager to enjoy greater air links. I do hope that the two countries' governments can reach agreement for even more non-stop flights to help satisfy consumer demand," Boven said.

UAE is India's most dominant trading partner in the West Asia North Africa region and represents 70 per cent of the country's export to Gulf Cooperative Council countries. Currently, there are 3,300 Indian companies operating in the UAE. Bilateral trade between the two countries stands at over AED 48 billion.

As the air travel between India and UAE increases, Etihad will look to boost its services and become the leading airline in this exciting and crucial sector, Boven said.

The new three flights-per-week service to Thiruvananthapuram and four flights-per-week service to Kochi will join Etihad's established flights to Mumbai and New Delhi, with flights to the Indian capital going daily from May 31.


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