ETIHAD Airways will launch a daily service between New Delhi and San Francisco via Abu Dhabi, shortening what has traditionally been a two-stop itinerary for travellers.
From November 18, the Gulf carrier will deploy a 346-seater Boeing 777-300ER in a three-class configuration, leased from Jet Airways.
GMJ Thampy, chairman and managing director of Riya Group Enterprises, parent organisation to a number of travel companies, said: “Right now people who wish to fly to San Francisco from New Delhi on Etihad Airways have to halt at two destinations – Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles. With this new flight, flying time will be drastically reduced. Many Indian students are in San Francisco, constituting a potential segment for the airline.”
“Indian arrivals to San Francisco will definitely increase with the new flight. Etihad has an edge since they have a US pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi, thus all customs and immigration gets done in Abu Dhabi and one lands in the US as a domestic passenger,” commented Anil Kalsi, managing partner of Ambe World Travels.
However, Rajji Rai, chairman of Uniglobe Swiftravel, said demand will not see a huge increment as it is not a direct flight. “Indian travellers don’t mind transiting for the price difference offered. Also considering the strong demand, there will be little impact on load factors for airlines already operating this sector.”