28 Nov 2013 07:00
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will add more seats between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne by introducing a Boeing 777-300ER to the route.
The larger aircraft, to start operating
from December 1, will offer 328 seats in a three-class configuration - 36 more
than the Airbus A340-600 which is currently flying the Abu Dhabi-Melbourne
Etihad Airways’ President and Chief
Executive Officer, James Hogan, said the introduction of the larger aircraft
reflected the importance to Etihad Airways of the Australian market and
Melbourne in particular.
“Etihad Airways’ Melbourne–Abu Dhabi
flights are some of the strongest performers in our network – this year load
factors between the two cities have averaged more than 80 per cent.
“Switching to the Boeing 777 gives us 12
per cent more seats overall and 25 per cent more in business class. This will
enable us to increase our share of the corporate and leisure travel market
between Australia and Abu Dhabi and beyond to our worldwide network.”
Mr Hogan said the introduction of a larger
aircraft also presented a growth opportunity for the airline’s highly
successful cargo division, Etihad Cargo.
“The Boeing 777 offers a bellyhold cargo
capacity of around 14-16 tonnes which allows us to capitalise on Australia’s
strong trading relationship with the United Arab Emirates.
“The United Arab Emirates is Australia’s
largest trading partner in the Middle East and, last year, two-way merchandise
trade between Australia and the UAE was worth around $5.13 billion.”
The three-class Boeing 777-300ER has eight
seats in Diamond First Class, 40 in Pearl Business Class, and 280 in Coral
Etihad Airways commenced flights between
Abu Dhabi and Melbourne in 2009.