Greek national carrier, Aegean Airlines, will inaugurate a four times weekly Airbus A320 service between Athens and Abu Dhabi from March 30, 2014 after formalising a commercial agreement with United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier, Etihad Airways on the route. The new link will complement the existing daily flights of Etihad which were first introduced in June 2009 and will further enhance international connectivity to and from Greece.
The route will be supported by a marketing agreement and network integration with Etihad, which subject to regulatory approvals will see the Etihad ‘EY’ code placed on the new Aegean flight. Beyond Athens, Etihad will also place its flight code on Aegean-operated flights to 16 Greek destinations, and to a further 10 cities across Europe, while in return, Aegean will offer new codeshare routes between Athens and seven destinations across the Gulf region, Australia and South Africa.
“The new Aegean-operated Abu Dhabi-Athens flight will complement Etihad’s existing daily operation between the two cities, enhancing access between Greece and the rest of our global network,” said James Hogan, president and chief executive officer, Etihad Airways.
“Our customer proposition will also be further strengthened as we will soon be able to place our flight code on Aegean flights to popular Greek destinations,” he added. These destinations include Alexandroupolis, Chania, Chios, Heraklion, Ioannina, Kavala, Cephalonia, Corfu, Kos, Lemnos, Mykonos, Mytilene, Rhodes, Samos, Santorini, and Thessaloniki.
The services will appeal not only to travellers from the UAE and wider Gulf region, but equally to travellers from further afield including the Greek diaspora in Australia and South Africa. The wider Aegean-operated European destinations that will carry an ‘EY’ flight number include: Vienna, Prague, Rome, Venice, Warsaw, Bucharest, Madrid, Tirana, Sofia and Larnaca, while Aegean plans to place its ‘A3’ flight code on Etihad-operated flights from Abu Dhabi to Athens, Bahrain, Kuwait, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
“By partnering with Etihad, Aegean gains access to the Gulf region and South Africa as well increasing connection opportunities to Australia. Aegean will also open up points on its network to Etihad customers, and will enhance access to and from Greece via Abu Dhabi,” said Dimitris Gerogiannis, managing director, Aegean Airlines.
“The combined proposition to business and leisure travellers has never been stronger and I am confident Greek tourism and businesses will benefit significantly from this development, as will Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, and one of the world’s leading business and tourism destinations,” he added.
The recent economic crisis in Greece has clearly influenced demand on this route with MIDT data showing an estimated 11,000 bi-directional O&D passengers travelling between Athens and Abu Dhabi in 2012, a figure that has halved since 2010. However, overall passenger numbers on Etihad’s flights have been on the rise as more passengers make use of its wider network to fly to or from Athens via its Abu Dhabi International Airport hub. Our analysis shows that over 80 per cent of the passengers flying on Etihad’s existing daily operation are transferring in Abu Dhabi to, or from, other flights; this is up from around 60 per cent in 2009.