09 Dec 2013 08:00
Etihad Airways has commenced major expansion of its Indian operations following the approval of an historic 24 per cent investment in Jet Airways.
Central to the Etihad Airways plan is the use of Abu Dhabi, capital
of the United Arab Emirates, as a global hub connecting international
passengers and freight with flights to and from India.
Pending the opening of a new facility, United States-bound
passengers will be able to clear US immigration and customs at Abu Dhabi
The first stage of the Etihad Airways strategy includes additional
flights or the introduction of larger aircraft on existing routes to India.
The initial flight increases by Etihad Airways are:
- Mumbai and New Delhi: 7 to 14 flights per week (immediate)
- Kochi: 7 to 14 flights per week (June 2014)
- Bangalore and Chennai: 7 to 14 flights per week
- Hyderabad: 7 to 14 flights per week (October
As well as more flights, Etihad Airways is introducing larger
aircraft in some markets.
On the Abu Dhabi-Mumbai and Abu Dhabi – New Delhi routes, evening
flights with narrow-bodied Airbus A320s have been upgraded to wide-bodied
Airbus A340 and A330 jets. On the Mumbai services, this includes introduction
of First Class cabins on the evening A340 flights.
New Airbus A321 aircraft, seating 174 passengers, will be used on
all Abu Dhabi-Chennai services, and between Abu Dhabi and Kochi from June 2014.
Subject to regulatory approvals in a range of countries, Etihad
Airways and Jet Airways also plan to codeshare on each other’s flights between
Abu Dhabi, India and other markets in the Middle East, North America and
Etihad Airways will also codeshare on new flights by Jet Airways’
between India and the U.S., via the Abu Dhabi hub, subject to regulatory
“India is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing air travel
markets, and will play an increasingly important role in our growth,” said
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways.
“Through our purchase of 24 per cent of Jet Airways – the first
foreign investment permitted in an Indian airline – we have laid the
foundations for major and exciting growth in air services between Abu Dhabi and India, and beyond throughout
our global network,” Mr Hogan said.
“Subject to receiving regulatory approvals, we will continue to
expand our Abu Dhabi – India operations and work with our growing stable of
partners to accommodate strong growth and deliver much greater choice for
travel to and from India.”
The changes are not confined to flight operations.
A key benefit of the Etihad Airways equity alliance is the ability
of member airlines to work together not only to increase revenues but to reduce
In addition to Jet Airways, Etihad Airways has invested in
airberlin (29 per cent), Air Seychelles (40 per cent), Virgin Australia (19.9
per cent) and Aer Lingus (3 per cent). Etihad Airways also is awaiting
regulatory approval to acquire 33.3 per cent of Swiss regional carrier Darwin
Airline and in January 2014 will activate a 49 per cent investment in Air
“Our equity alliance enables much deeper cooperation than can be
achieved through a standard commercial partnership,” Mr Hogan said. “In
addition to joint activities which increase revenue, the relationships we have
with our equity partners enable us to reduce costs and increase efficiencies
through activities such as resource sharing, knowledge transfer and joint
Both airlines are exploring synergies ranging from integration of
their loyalty programs to shared airport facilities and offices, common
training of pilots and flight attendants and deployment of joint sales forces
in markets served by both carriers.