Spanish carrier Air Europa is set to launch direct flights between Madrid and Abu Dhabi after becoming the latest airline partner for fast-growing Gulf carrier Etihad Airways. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) flag carrier has signed a codeshare agreement with the SkyTeam alliance partner which will see both carriers significantly enhance access to and from Spain, the UAE and other destinations across globe.
Under the terms of the agreement and subject to regulatory approvals, Air Europa plans to commence a three times a week direct service between Madrid and Abu Dhabi from late 2014. Etihad will place its ‘EY’ flight code on the planned Airbus A330 operated flights, offering direct access to Madrid for the very first time from its Abu Dhabi hub.
The two airlines will work together in the run up to the route launch, with Etihad initially placing its code on Air Europa-operated flights to Madrid from Amsterdam, Brussels and Milan Malpensa and beyond Madrid to Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca. In return, Air Europa will place its ‘UX’ flight code on Etihad’s flights from Amsterdam, Brussels and Milan Malpensa to Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, during summer 2014, both airlines plan to expand the number of codeshare destinations to include new cities in Spain and South America via Madrid, and more cities beyond Abu Dhabi across the Gulf region, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
“The fact that Air Europa has chosen Abu Dhabi for the next wave of its international expansion, speaks volumes of what the emirate and our global hub have to offer,” said James Hogan, president and chief executive officer, Etihad Airways. “We have been keen to offer our customers direct access to the Spanish capital for a number of years, and doing this now in partnership with Air Europa makes perfect business sense. It is the right thing to do.”
The proposed link will bring the first competition between the Spanish capital and the UAE to Emirates Airline which introduced a daily link between Madrid and its own UAE hub at Dubai International Airport in August 2010. It now operates a twice daily service following the introduction of a second rotation in July 2012, using Boeing 777 equipment on both flights. This has helped grow trade volumes between the UAE and Spain by 75 per cent over the last three years, according to official data.
“We have chosen Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways as the gateway to India, China, Australia and other destinations served in the Far East,” said Juan José Hidalgo, president and chief executive officer, Air Europa. “As one of the most important operators to the American continent, especially Central and South America via our hub in Madrid, for Air Europa the agreement between the two airlines is a step forward in a global market. Both airlines will provide an excellent link between America and Asia via Madrid and Abu Dhabi.”
All of the codeshare operations will be implemented once regulatory approvals are received and the launch date of the proposed Madrid - Abu Dhabi service is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.