Etihad Airways has announced that it is celebrating 10 years of flying to the southern Indian state of Kerala with the introduction of additional flights to the popular destination.
The airline has launched a fourth daily non-stop service between Kozhikode and its Abu Dhabi hub, offering “convenient onward connections to cities worldwide”, the airline has said in a press statement.
The extra capacity takes to 63 the total number of weekly services between Abu Dhabi and its three Kerala gateways of Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. This represents over 30% of Etihad Airways’ frequencies from across the 11 Indian cities it serves.
Key destinations for travellers from Kerala include Abu Dhabi, the Gulf region, London, New York and Chicago.
The current capacity includes four flights a day to Kozhikode, thrice daily to Kochi and double daily to Thiruvananthapuram. The Kerala flights are operated with a mix of Airbus 320 and A321 aircraft featuring up to 16 seats in Business Class and 158 in Economy.
In addition, strategic Indian partner Jet Airways operates seven flights a week from Kochi to Abu Dhabi. The services largely cater to the huge expatriate population from all three Kerala cities and surrounding areas, living and working in the Gulf region.
Addressing media at a briefing in Thiruvananthapuram yesterday, Neerja Bhatia, Etihad Airways vice-president – Indian Subcontinent, said: “With our multi-frequency scheduled flights to and from Kerala, Etihad Airways has demonstrated a commitment to this vibrant state by offering convenient global access and boosting the domestic tourism industry.
“Reaching a 10-year milestone is fitting tribute to the support Etihad Airways has received from the state government of Kerala in making our operations a success.”
Dr Venu Vasudevan, principal secretary – Kerala Tourism, said: “We congratulate Etihad Airways on a decade of flying to Kerala and look forward to conducting several joint initiatives to promote the many diverse destinations across our state.”
Etihad Airways’ Indian network to and from Abu Dhabi covers Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai, New Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram with a total of 194 flights each week. Jet Airways offers the additional Indian cities of Pune, Lucknow, Mangalore and Goa to Abu Dhabi, as well as numerous domestic connections. Combined, both carriers operate over 250 flights each week between Abu Dhabi and 15 Indian cities.
During 2017, Jet Airways is scheduled to launch flights from Kannur and Chandigarh to Abu Dhabi, subject to appropriate regulatory approvals and completion of operational readiness at these airports.
The schedule of the new daily flights is as follows: EY284 departing Abu Dhabi at 10am and arriving in Kozhikode at 3.25pm, and EY285 departing Kozhikode at 4.40pm and arriving in Abu Dhabi at 7pm.
Since Etihad Airways’ first flight to Kerala on May 31, 2007, when it inducted services to Thiruvananthapuram, followed two days later by the inaugural Kochi flight, the airline has flown almost 3.5mn guests to and from the state. The Kozhikode route was launched on August 1, 2008.