Saudi Arabian low-cost carrier, flynas, is to resume international flights to Abu Dhabi from next month after agreeing to partner with United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier, Etihad Airways to provide enhanced onward connectivity opportunities via Abu Dhabi International Airport.
flynas will introduce a five times weekly link between King Khalid International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport from December 16, 2015, complementing the existing 13 weekly flights already offered by Etihad on the route, providing greater choice and flexibility for passengers travelling from Saudi Arabia, the UAE or beyond.
“Riyadh is an important strategic destination for us due to the established cultural and commercial ties between the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The new flynas Riyadh service will strengthen our Saudi Arabian network further, but more importantly, it will give business and leisure travellers greater choice and better flight connections in their travel to Abu Dhabi and on to Etihad Airways’ worldwide network,” said Kevin Knight, Chief Strategy and Planning Officer, Etihad Airways.
The flights will be operated by a two-class Airbus A320, offering an additional 1,640 seats per week, and ensuring maximum connectivity through Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub to key destinations in North America and the Indian Subcontinent. They are part of an expanded codeshare agreement between the two airlines, which was initially signed in October 2012.
The agreement allows flynas to place its ‘XY’ code on 226 Etihad Airways’ flights between Abu Dhabi and 20 destinations around the world. These include Amsterdam, Brussels, Casablanca, Dammam, Geneva, Islamabad, Jakarta, Jeddah, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, London, Manchester, Medina, Paris, Riyadh, São Paulo, Seychelles, Singapore, Zurich, and subsequently on flights operating to the Indian Subcontinent over the coming months, subject to regulatory approvals.
“We are delighted to partner with Etihad Airways to add Abu Dhabi to flynas’ destinations within the GCC,” said Bander Al Mohanna, Chief Executive Officer, NAS Holding, parent of flynas. “flynas continues to expand across the region and by adding Abu Dhabi to our GCC route network, we are significantly increasing both capacity and choice for travellers, including pilgrims as well as business commuters and leisure seekers.”
Etihad Airways launched services between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh in December 2004. The airline offers 46 flights per week between the UAE’s capital and the Saudi Arabian cities of Jeddah, Damman, Riyadh and Medina and services are often increased to 55 flights per week on temporary operating permits to meet seasonal demand peaks.
Schedule data from OAG shows that available capacity between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia grew by an average annual rate of 22.7 per cent between 2005 and 2014 and is forecasted to rise 7.5 per cent this year (versus 2014), based on published schedules. Etihad Airways is the dominant carrier in this market with a 79.4 per cent capacity share this year. Alongside its links Jeddah, Damman, Riyadh and Medina, Saudi Arabian Airlines also serves Abu Dhabi from Jeddah, Medina and Riyadh.