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17 Dec 2013 08:00

airBaltic and Etihad Airways have marked the start of direct Riga-Abu Dhabi flights with a ceremony at Riga International Airport in Latvia. 

Attended by the Latvian Prime Minister, government officials, airline executives, business leaders, travel agents and media, the event also officially kicked off a new Etihad Airways-airBaltic codeshare partnership.

From today airBaltic will operate an Airbus A319 aircraft four times a week between the Latvian capital and Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub.  The aircraft is configured with 14 seats in Business Class and 102 seats in Economy Class.

Etihad Airways has placed its ‘EY’ flight code on the new airBaltic operated service, and beyond to 15 cities including:  Alesund, Barcelona, Bergen, Billund, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Lappeenranta, Oslo, Prague, Stavanger, Stockholm, Tallinn, Turku, Vienna and Vilnius.

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

Speaking at the launch, Latvian Prime Ministir Vladis Dombrovskis, said:  “Today marks the first time Riga has been linked by air with Abu Dhabi, one of the world’s fastest growing cities, and a global hub for airBaltic’s codeshare partner Etihad Airways.

“This direct flight will open up a range of business and leisure opportunities, which previously never existed.  It will support trade development between Latvia and the rest of the world, increase tourism in both directions, and result in a range of new connection options for customers of both airlines.”

Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic, said:  “Today’s event is about two airlines working together, using the strengths and opportunities of each carrier’s network, and putting an attractive travel proposition to our most important target – the customer.

“Working with Etihad Airways, we look forward to making this new route and the connectivity it offers over Riga and Abu Dhabi a great success, and we will continue to look at ways to expand our network in the future.”

Also present in Riga, Hareb Al Muhairy, Etihad Airways’ Vice President UAE, said:  “Global reach is beyond the capacity of any single airline and our view is that progress must come through partnership.  Today marks the official start of our partnership with airBaltic, and the first time we have been able to offer Riga as an Etihad Airways codeshare destination.

“Underpinning the route are growing commercial ties between the UAE and Latvia.  The UAE is one of Latvia’s main trading partners in the Gulf region and in 2012 Latvia’s exports to the UAE reached EUR 72 million, 102 per cent up on 2011.”

“We very much look forward to welcoming airBaltic’s customers on our flights beyond Abu Dhabi to key destinations across the globe.  Equally, I have full confidence that airBaltic will extend their hospitality to our customers over Riga.”

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