09 Oct 2013 07:00

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and airBaltic, Latvia’s flag carrier, today announced that direct Riga-Abu Dhabi flights will commence on December 16, 2013. 

The announcement follows the signing of a codeshare agreement between the two airlines.  Subject to regulatory approvals, airBaltic will operate the new four weekly return flights using a 116 seat Airbus A319 aircraft.

With seating capacity for 14 Business class and 102 Economy class passengers, the flights will operate on a split schedule, ensuring optimal connectivity over each airline’s respective hubs in Abu Dhabi and Riga.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The trade, cultural and leisure ties between the UAE and Latvia have never been stronger and this new direct flight marks the start of our codeshare partnership with airBaltic and the linking of the capital cities of both countries by air for the very first time.  It is also the first time we are able to offer Riga as an Etihad Airways codeshare destination.

“The new route will be of huge benefit to Latvian travellers visiting Abu Dhabi for business or leisure, in addition to offering seamless connections over our hub to destinations across the globe.  In tandem, it will allow Etihad Airways to offer destinations flown by airBaltic beyond its Riga hub, particularly in northern and eastern Europe.”

The UAE is one of Latvia’s main trading partners in the Gulf region.  In 2012, Latvia’s exports to the UAE reached EUR 72 million, 102 per cent up on 2011.*

Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic, said: “We are delighted to link Latvia and the UAE, and improve our service to the customer by substantially reducing the travel time between the two capitals and, to destinations beyond.  Our codeshare and interline cooperation will offer convenient connections to passengers travelling via Abu Dhabi to and from key destinations in Australia, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.”

Etihad Airways will place its ‘EY’ flight code on the new Riga flights, and subject to government approvals, beyond to 19 cities including:  Billund, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Helsinki, Lappeenranta, Turku, Hamburg, Alesund, Bergen, Oslo, Stavanger, Vilnius, Warsaw, Stockholm, Kiev, Vienna, Prague, Barcelona and Istanbul.

In return, airBaltic will place its ‘BT’ flight code on Etihad Airways flights beyond Abu Dhabi to Cairo, Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, Amman and Muscat.

Mr Hogan concluded:  “Global reach is beyond the capacity of any single airline and our view is that progress must come through partnership.  This partnership agreement with airBaltic, our 47th codeshare, will deliver significant passenger and cargo benefits for both carriers.”

The new Riga-Abu Dhabi flights are on sale from today.

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