IN­DIAN CONNECT

Eti­had’s ex­pan­sion in In­dia

Business Traveller (India) - - CONTENTS -

The UAE’s na­tional car­rier, Eti­had Air­ways launched in 2003, a year be­fore it be­gan op­er­a­tions to Mum­bai in Septem­ber 2004, fol­lowed by Delhi. Since then, it has added many more In­dian des­ti­na­tions to its route map. In 2013 it part­nered with In­dia’s full-ser­vice air­line, Jet Air­ways and to­gether, both have 14 di­rect flights be­tween Abu Dhabi, Eti­had’s hub, and In­dia.

CHANGES

Eti­had Air­ways closed its tick­et­ing of­fices in In­dia this April, but this doesn’t mean the coun­try isn’t a port of im­por­tance to the air­line. In a world that’s rapidly turn­ing dig­i­tal, air­line pas­sen­gers find book­ing through web­sites eas­ier, as op­posed to vis­it­ing a book­ing of­fice.

The same ap­plies to Eti­had pas­sen­gers in In­dia who can con­tinue mak­ing flight reser­va­tions through the air­line’s web­site and call cen­tre sup­port. Eti­had says that this move from phys­i­cal of­fices in In­dia to on­line travel agen­cies fol­lows the grow­ing de­mand for 24/7 ac­cess to the reser­va­tion desk. At the time this an­nounce­ment was made, Ara­bian

Busi­ness quoted an Eti­had spokesper­son: “As part of our com­mit­ment to ser­vice guests round-the-clock, Eti­had is in­creas­ing its ser­vice de­liv­ery by switch­ing to a 24/7 sup­port op­er­a­tion. Our staff at the 24/7 ser­vice cen­tre are fully equipped to help with all new book­ings and re-is­su­ing of tick­ets, en­sur­ing guests con­tinue to get the same level of ser­vice that they were of­fered by the tick­et­ing of­fices [in In­dia], which have now closed.”

Fur­ther, in the last week of April, Eti­had Air­ways and Jet Air­ways have signed an agree­ment with the Govern­ment of Ma­ha­rash­tra to boost do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional arrivals into the state cap­i­tal, Mum­bai and on­ward con­nec­tions to other cities, through var­i­ous mar­ket­ing medi­ums.

James Ho­gan, Eti­had Avi­a­tion Group’s pres­i­dent and CEO, says, “Be­ing part of one of the world’s largest economies, Ma­ha­rash­tra has plenty to of­fer busi­ness and leisure trav­ellers. We are there­fore de­lighted to ex­pand our links to pro­mote tourism to this vi­brant state, which we have been serv­ing with ded­i­cated flights for 13 years. This is the first time a state govern­ment in In­dia has ven­tured into such a tourism part­ner­ship with the air­line in­dus­try, hence we ap­pre­ci­ate the op­por­tu­nity to work with our strate­gic In­dian part­ner Jet Air­ways on the break­through agree­ment. Our com­bined op­er­a­tion with Jet Air­ways be­tween Abu Dhabi and Mum­bai, com­ple­mented by Jet’s wide­spread do­mes­tic ser­vices, is fur­ther tes­ta­ment to the im­por­tance of Ma­ha­rash­tra on our route map.”

ROUTE EXPANSIONS

Just a few weeks be­fore the an­nounce­ment to close tick­et­ing of­fices here, on March 26 Eti­had Air­ways launched a third ser­vice be­tween Abu Dhabi and Bengaluru. It is ei­ther of the A320, A321 or A322 air­craft that serve the route, giv­ing op­tions to fly early morn­ing (0435 hours), mid-morn­ing (0955 hours) or late evening (2210 hours) from Bengaluru.

In sim­i­lar ef­forts to of­fer a wider choice to its pas­sen­gers, in May the air­line launched a fourth daily non-stop ser­vice to Kozhikode in Ker­ala. This ad­di­tional ser­vice takes the total num­ber of weekly flights be­tween Abu Dhabi and the south­ern state of Ker­ala to 63 — mak­ing up about 30 per cent of Eti­had Air­ways’ total In­dian op­er­a­tions.

Cur­rently, the Gulf air­line flies four flights daily to Kozhikode, three flights a day to Kochi and double daily ser­vices to Thiru­vanan­tha­pu­ram — also in Ker­ala. Jet Air­ways, its strate­gic part­ner op­er­ates seven flights a week be­tween Kochi and Abu Dhabi.

Other In­dian cities to which Eti­had Air­ways has di­rect flights from Abu Dhabi are Ahmed­abad (four times weekly), Chen­nai (daily), Hy­der­abad (daily), Jaipur (five times weekly), Kochi (daily), Kolkata (daily), Mum­bai (daily), Delhi (daily) and Thiru­vanan­tha­pu­ram (daily). Its part­ner, Jet Air­ways of­fers di­rect ser­vices from ad­di­tional In­dian cities of Luc­know (daily), Man­ga­lore (daily) and Pune (daily) to Abu Dhabi.

Jet Air­ways has also an­nounced plans to launch di­rect flights from Kan­nur and Chandi­garh to Abu Dhabi this year, sub­ject to ap­pro­pri­ate reg­u­la­tory ap­provals and com­ple­tion of op­er­a­tional readi­ness at th­ese air­ports.

OTHER SER­VICES

With Abu Dhabi be­ing a short flight of about four hours away from In­dia, MICE groups have recently been tempted to host ses­sions in the UAE cap­i­tal. Ac­knowl­edg­ing this need, Eti­had Air­ways has a ded­i­cated ser­vice to ad­dress meet­ing, in­cen­tive and con­fer­ence group re­quests to the emi­rate. It helps with book­ing pack­ages that start from flights and con­tinue to in­clude hotels and event ser­vices too.

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