Etihad seeks approval to fly to eight additional Indian destinations

The Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, the UAE's national carrier, is to seek the Indian government's approval to fly to eight more cities in India from its base in Abu Dhabi. The airline hopes to start new services to Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Calicut, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Jaipur and Kolkata, it said in a release.

The announcement follows two days of meetings between Etihad chief executive James Hogan and the union minister for civil aviation Praful Patel. At present, the nearly four-year-old Etihad is permitted under a bilateral air treaty to operate just 28 flights a week from the UAE to India.

Etihad's existing services are to Mumbai, New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. Yesterday, it said it would also code-share with Sri Lankan Airlines on flights to Colombo, after Etihad suspends its own service on 15 September.

There are 655 Indian companies currently registered in Abu Dhabi and 400,000 non-resident Indians live in the emirate. Etihad operates a fleet of more than 30 aircraft and serves 35 destinations in five continents across the globe.