ETIHAD Airways will more than triple seat numbers on Mumbai and New Delhi services from November 1.
The announcement follows the recent signing of a new air services agreement between India and the United Arab Emirates, under which the Indian government approved an exponential increase in capacity from 13,000 seats weekly to almost 50,000 weekly.
By December 31, Etihad will offer twice-daily services from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai and New Delhi, up from current daily services. The wide-bodied Airbus A340-600 will be deployed on the Mumbai route, while the A330-200 will service flights to New Delhi.
The airline will also increase capacity on its daily Chennai flights by replacing the current 136-seat A320s with new, 174-seat A321s.
James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways, said: “We now have the opportunity to add significant capacity between the two countries, not only meeting existing demand for trade and tourist travel but also ensuring that we can meet the continued strong growth which is expected between our two countries.”
Furthermore, Etihad intends to codeshare with Jet Airways on several flights within India, incorporating India’s Tier Two and Tier Three cities into its network. Dependent on statutory approval, the carrier also wants to add more flights in 2014.
Anshuman Mitra, director of Starlite DMC India, said: “Etihad’s expansion has added significantly to the growth of Indian outbound to Abu Dhabi in the last two years, consolidating India’s position as the city’s top source market (TTG Asia e-Daily, July 31, 2013).
“The ease of onward connections, especially to European destinations, has added to the airline’s popularity with Indian fliers.”