Abu Dhabi flights to be scrapped

● Air­line to ground ser­vice to its Mid­dle Eastern hub in Oc­to­ber af­ter three years

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By ALAS­TAIR DAL­TON

Eti­had Air­ways is set to scrap its Ed­in­burgh flights to Abu Dhabi, The Scots­man has learned.

The daily ser­vice will end in Oc­to­ber, just three years af­ter be­ing launched.

The de­ci­sion will come as a ma­jor blow to Eti­had and Ed­in­burgh Air­port. The air­line’s for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive, James Ho­gan, said in 2014 that it would launch two Scot­tish routes, with the sec­ond one due to start by 2020.

Eti­had Air­ways is to drop its Ed­in­burgh flights to Abu Dhabi, The Scots­man has learned.

The daily ser­vice will end in Oc­to­ber, just three years af­ter be­ing launched in com­pe­ti­tion with Qatar Air­ways to Doha.

Most pas­sen­gers have used the hubs as step­ping stones to other des­ti­na­tions on the air­lines’ long-haul net­works such as in Asia and Aus­tralia.

How­ever, Eti­had has a smaller net­work of des­ti­na­tions than Qatar or Emi­rates, which flies twice a day be­tween Glas­gow and Dubai.

The de­ci­sion will come as a ma­jor blow to Eti­had and Ed­in­burgh Air­port fol­low­ing pre­vi­ous an­nounce­ments of ex­pan­sion. The air­line’s then chief ex­ec­u­tive James Ho­gan said in Scot­land in 2014 that it would launch two Scot­tish routes. The sec­ond one was due to start by 2020.

An avi­a­tion source said: “The route clo­sure de­ci­sion fits with a pe­riod of cut­backs Eti­had has been mak­ing across its net­work and a rel­a­tively poor per­for­mance at Ed­in­burgh.

“Qatar Air­ways will also be up­grad­ing to larger Air­bus A350 from Ed­in­burgh at the same time.

“The new China flight be­tween Ed­in­burgh and Bei­jing from June won’t help Eti­had’s eco­nom­ics in the route.”

Avi­a­tion an­a­lyst John Strick­land, of JLS Con­sult­ing, said: “Eti­had is in a ma­jor phase of re­trench­ment, hav­ing ex­ited sev­eral of its in­vest­ments in­clud­ing Air Ber­lin and Al­i­talia, and also di­vest­ing of air­craft and clos­ing routes.

“Emi­rates also con­tin­ues to per­form strongly on its Glas­gow to Dubai ser­vice.

“The Ed­in­burgh global mar­ket is a large one, but the pace of com­pe­ti­tion has in­creased to the Gulf and Asia.

“Now the Abu Dhabi route is pay­ing the price of this and Eti­had’s wider strate­gic re­view as it stems its losses.”

Ken Mcleod, pres­i­dent of the Scot­tish Pas­sen­ger Agents As­so­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents travel agents, said: “We are very dis­ap­pointed that any air­line has to pull a route, but noone un­der­es­ti­mates the chal­lenge of Eti­had, Emi­rates and Qatar sus­tain­ing four flights a day from Scot­land to world­wide des­ti­na­tions via the Mid­dle East. The in­tro­duc­tion of a di­rect China flight with Hainan this sum­mer won’t have been the main rea­son why Eti­had may pull out, but it won’t have helped.

“If Scot­land loses Eti­had, we will be very sorry be­cause there has been a lot of hard work put in over the last three years. How­ever, Ed­in­burgh has a huge num­ber of des­ti­na­tions in its port­fo­lio and will con­tinue to grow and pros­per with its wide va­ri­ety of car­ri­ers.”

Eti­had is ex­pected to con­firm its de­ci­sion within days, but did not deny the route would be closed. Its spokesman said: “Eti­had Air­ways con­tin­ues to re­view its net­work and make a se­lect num­ber of ad­just­ments which will be an­nounced at the ap­pro­pri­ate time, tak­ing into ac­count the needs of our staff, part­ners, and cus­tomers.”

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