Etihad Airways eager to expand Indian operations

Etihad Airways CEO, James Hogan, in his meeting with Indian minister of civil aviation, Praful Patel has proposed to expand the airline's services to a larger number of Indian cities.

"The liberalisation of aviation markets is bringing multiple benefits for both consumers and regional economies alike. I hope that Etihad Airways will be granted access to the emerging cities of India," commented Hogan.

The airline, which currently operates 29 flights a week from the United Arab Emirates to India, is currently constrained by an inter-government bilateral agreement from any further expansion.

Etihad currently operates daily flights from Abu Dhabi to the national capital, New Delhi and India's commercial capital, Mumbai. It also operates three flights a week to Trivandrum and four to Cochin. In addition, its Kerala route has been increased to daily flights from this month.

"In terms of our wish-list for new services from Abu Dhabi to India, we are looking at the cities of Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Calicut, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Jaipur and Kolkota," added Hogan.

Etihad's rising interest in expanding its India operations would also be on account of expanding trade ties with between Abu Dhabi and India over the last decade. The value of India's exports to the Emirate was US$239 million in 2006, marking an increase of 48% from 2005 and 137% from 2000.

Non-oil exports from Abu Dhabi to India have registered a growth of 114%, at $149 million from 2006.