Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has commenced non-stop daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Washington, D.C., creating the first direct air link between the two capitals.
The new service to Washington Dulles International Airport has been introduced to meet strong demand for government and business travel, as well as growing demand for leisure trips between and beyond the cities.
“Government and corporate customers in both markets have given us strong indication that the Abu Dhabi - Washington route can support a daily service from day one,” James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said.
“We have confidently responded by committing 3,360 seats per week and already our forward bookings on the route are very encouraging in both directions,” Mr Hogan said. “In addition, we will open a US$6.8 million premium lounge this week in Terminal A at Dulles Airport to benefit our Diamond First and Pearl Business Class passengers.”
Flight EY131 departs Abu Dhabi International Airport at 10:00am each day for the 15 hour journey to Washington, D.C., the fourth North American destination for Etihad Airways after New York, Chicago and Toronto. To date, Etihad Airways has carried almost two million passengers between Abu Dhabi and North America, achieving 12.6 per cent growth in passenger numbers last year.
Among the dignitaries attending the airline’s official launch functions in Washington this week are: His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States; Mr Michael Corbin, the US Ambassador to the UAE; and Mr Danny Sebright, President of the US-UAE Business Council. Etihad Airways serves the Abu Dhabi – Washington, D.C., route with ultra-long range Airbus A340-500 aircraft, seating 240 passengers in a spacious three-class cabin – 12 in Diamond First, 28 in Pearl Business and 200 in Coral Economy Class.
In addition to providing much-needed flights between the capitals, the new services will also provide yet another international connection to Abu Dhabi International Airport, which is growing as an international air transport hub for passengers and cargo.
As part of its global hub strategy, Abu Dhabi Airport will open a new terminal in 2017 increasing the annual passenger capacity from the current 12.5 million to 30 million. Provision is also being made for further expansion to accommodate up to 60 million passengers per year.