With a restrictive bilateral air services agreement limiting its own growth opportunities in Germany, United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier Etihad Airways has been able to turn to its partner carrier airberlin to help it enhance its offering in the country. The German carrier, one of Etihad’s growing list of equity partners, will introduce a regular flight to Abu Dhabi from Stuttgart in December 2014, hoping to be more successful than Qatar Airways’ previous attempt to link the southern German city with one of the Middle East’s major hubs.
The oneworld alliance member will launch a daily service between Stuttgart and Abu Dhabi from December 1, 2014 using an Airbus A320 configured with 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy Class. The service, which remains subject to government and regulatory approvals will be airberlin’s sole medium-haul link from Stuttgart, a market it currently mainly links to Mediterranean leisure destinations.
This will be the first regular link between Stuttgart and the UAE although Qatar Airways previously served the market from its Doha hub between March 2011 and October 2012 but closed the route with limited warning. The three times weekly flight was initially flown by an A319 but was later switched to an A330 widebody, but combined with Zurich.
airberlin hopes its established brand in the Stuttgart market will help to sustain the new route which will also provide onward links to 41 destinations from Abu Dhabi through Etihad Airways’ equity and codeshare partner network to destinations across the Gulf region, Asia, Australia and the Indian subcontinent. The German carrier is the second largest operator at Stuttgart Airport behind Germanwings with a 20.7 per cent capacity share.
"The new airberlin flights from Stuttgart to Abu Dhabi mark an important milestone in our involvement with Stuttgart Airport. The Stuttgart area is one of the most economically important regions in Germany, and we see great potential for our planned services to Abu Dhabi," said Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, chief executive officer, airberlin.
As a major exporter, the Baden-Wuerttemberg region is well-known internationally for its strong manufacturing industry and innovative medium-sized companies, and has propelled itself to the seventh largest economy in the European Union.
While the automobile, mechanical and electrical engineering industries remain key sectors of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the region has the highest density of scientific, academic and research organisations in Germany, and a number of well-known enterprises such as Robert Bosch AG, Carl Zeiss and SAP AG have their headquarters in the prosperous southwestern part of Germany.
Altogether, airberlin will offer 63 flights per week this coming winter season from Germany to Abu Dhabi jointly with Etihad Airways, flying twice daily from Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich, as well as this daily flight from Stuttgart. Alongside the German operation to Abu Dhabi, airberlin’s Austrian subsidiary, Niki, is to launch a daily flight between Vienna and Abu Dhabi from November 24, 2014.
In our analysis, below, we look in greater detail at traffic flows from Stuttgart to destinations across the Middle East, Asia and Australasia over the past ten years. With no direct air services into Asia, airberlin and Etihad Airways will hope to secure a significant share of the traffic into this region as well as further stimulating demand to and from the German city. According to MIDT data, the largest markets for O&D passenger flows across Asia to and from Stuttgart in 2013 were Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Bangkok and Hong Kong.