Etihad to start flights between Abu Dhabi and Milan

UAE-based Etihad Airways will operate three flights a week between the Italian industrial and fashion centre of Milan and the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, starting 2 September.

Milan is Etihad's ninth European destination.

The UAE's Italian community numbers just 2,000 at present, but that figure continues to grow year-on-year. More than 80 Italian companies operate in the UAE and early demand for the new flights indicates that much of the traffic on the new route will come from the Italian business community.

By offering more than 1,200 seats each week from Abu Dhabi to Milan, Etihad will play a key role in the growth of commercial and cultural ties between the UAE and Italy, increasing travellers and bilateral trade, airline souces said.

UAE-Italian trade amounted to 17 billion dirhams ($4.63 billion) in 2006, an increase of 28 per cent over the previous year. Italian exports to the UAE from January to April 2007 were at 6.3 billion dirhams ($1.72 billion), which is an increase of 30 per cent over the same period in 2006.

Return fares on the new route start from 1,330 dirhams ($362) for economy, 7,330 dirhams ($1,996) for business class and 9,330 dirhams ($2,540) for first class. The airline will operate an Airbus A330-200 configured to carry 12 passengers in first, 26 in business and 164 in economy class, a total of 202 passengers.