Mumbai: Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is seeking to start new services from Abu Dhabi to Indian cities, and in this regard expects to start a final round of talks in the third week of this month with aviation ministry officials.
According to reports, Etihad will seek clearance for direct flights between UAE to Banaglore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. Currently, it operates seven flights from Mumbai and three from Delhi. The airline is also looking at doubling its services from Mumbai and Delhi to Abu Dhabi.
Reports indicate that Etihad has plans to start services to Sydney, Milan, Dublin, Shanghai and Kathmandu, as well. Like other global players, Etihad too has placed orders for a fleet of new of new aircraft. In all, 29 aircraft have been ordered by the airline at a cost of $8 billion, including Boeing 777s and Airbus 320s, 340s and 380s.
Etihad Airways officials have said that they recognise the need to add new cities to their schedule keeping in mind the large Indian community in the Gulf, UK and North America. They also point out that the number of Indian visitors to the UAE is increasing at the rate of 30 per cent annually.
The four-year-old airline has so far invested $9 billion in fleet purchases and operates to 35 destinations through 19 aircraft.