The carrier will begin serving the two cities with triple-daily flights, an upgrade from the previous double-daily offering in conjunction with Jet Airways, one of the Gulf carrier’s strategic partners.
The third daily offering to Mumbai will begin operation on February 15, 2015, and to New Delhi on May 1, 2015.
Alongside Jet Airways, the carrier will connect Abu Dhabi to 14 Indian cities, with over 200 flights per week including five flights a day to Mumbai, four flights a day to New Delhi, three flights a day to Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi, twice-daily flights to Ahmedabad and Kozhikode, and daily flights to Jaipur and Trivandrum.
The Gulf carrier will also launch a daily service to Kolkata on February 15, 2015 to contribute to its long-term development plan in India. Jet Airways has announced plans to launch daily services between Abu Dhabi and Lucknow, Pune and Goa.
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “India is expected to become the world’s third largest air passenger market within the next 20 years, and we are focused on providing travellers with the best possible offering into and out of the country, in terms of world-class service, extensive network coverage and multiple flight options each day.
Etihad Airway’s has also upgraded its aircraft on a number of its Indian routes to support the airline’s network developments. The airline will operate its new Boeing 787-9 on Mumbai evening services from January 2015, and will debut its three-class, wide-body aircraft on selected flights.
More than 620,000 passengers flew on Etihad’s India services, an increase of 51% year on year. The launch of triple-daily services to Mumbai and New Delhi, our most popular routes in India will allow us to meet growing market demand,” said Mr Hogan.
“Our relationship with Jet Airways will also continue to play an important role. Both airlines’ depth and breadth in India is stronger than any of our regional competitors and there are significant opportunities to increase our frequencies on existing routes, and introduce more Indian destinations into our network, which will set us even further apart from other airlines,” he said.
Etihad Airways announced an equity partnership with Jet Airways last year for the subscription of a 24% minority equity stake in the airline to strengthen its connections with India.
The Gulf carrier has also formed alliances with four other airlines including airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles and Darwin Airline.
“We are broadening our business model to articulate and define a partner proposition for like-minded airlines, which will result in synergies and efficiencies for participating airlines on the one side, and enhanced network choice, service and frequent flyer benefits for the consumer on the other,” said Mr Hogan.
The data above clearly indicates the rapid growth in Etihad seats from India in the past year, since the Jet Airways partnership was formed. Between 2013 and 2014, there has been a 68% increase in annual seat capacity in India on Etihad flights.