United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier Etihad Airways is to reduce the frequency of its flights between Abu Dhabi and San Francisco from early next year in a move that will help facilitate the growth of its flights into Dallas. The latest update to its inventory shows a reduction from a daily to three times weekly operation between Abu Dhabi and San Francisco from February 1, 2017, just a day ahead of the launch of its expanded Dallas schedules, revealed by the carrier last week.
Etihad launched the Abu Dhabi – San Francisco route in November 2014 using a Boeing 777-300ER but has transitioned to an exclusive 777-200LR since February this year having first introduced the smaller variant on some individual frequencies from late 2015. The airline has carried around 270,000 passengers on the route in its almost two years of operation (up until August 2016), just over 200 PPDEW and an average load of 61.25 percent, according to AirVision Market Intelligence data from Sabre Airline Solutions.
The data shows that the route has been heavily supported by passenger flows from the Indian sub-continent and Air India’s recent announcement that it is to expand its Delhi – San Francisco operation from three to six times weekly from November 21, 2016 will certainly have influenced Etihad’s thinking.
Over the last year (12 months to August 2016) almost 95 percent of the passengers flying with Etihad on the Abu Dhabi – San Francisco sector began their journeys at a point behind the Middle Eastern hub, with the top five origin markets (all generating more traffic than Abu Dhabi) being in India.
The 777-200LR serving San Francisco will be immediately redeployed into the Dallas market with frequencies between Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International increasing from three a week to a daily schedule “in response to heightened demand” between the two destinations, according to the carrier. The route was first introduced just a month after the Abu Dhabi – San Francisco service in December 2014 and has been flown by a 239-seat 777-200LR since launch.
Alongside boosting capacity in the city pair market by 133.3 percent to almost 3,350 two-way seats, the additional frequencies will provide 96 tonnes of more cargo capacity each week to facilitate the movement of international freight to and from Dallas/Fort Worth.
“Since launching our Dallas/Fort Worth service less than two years ago, the response from our guests travelling between Dallas/Fort Worth and our home Abu Dhabi and beyond, has exceeded expectations,” said Kevin Knight, chief strategy and planning officer, Etihad Aviation Group.
“The increased frequency will provide greater convenience and more options to business and leisure travellers throughout the Texas region, and will also cater to the huge travel market from India and the subcontinent to and from our Dallas/Fort Worth gateway and beyond,” he added.
Delivering more daily flights into Europe
Etihad is growing its activities in Europe in 2017, although this is not just being achieved through new destinations but through increased frequencies into capital city markets in its existing network. Based on current published schedules, the airline’s summer capacity across its 22 routes into Europe will increase by at least 2.0 percent. A new daily Venice link which launches this winter will be the only new summer destination, while flights to Larnaca end this month.
A significant capacity growth has already been revealed for Brussels and Istanbul and now Etihad has confirmed it will also introduce additional frequencies into both Dublin and Madrid during the summer 2017 schedule. As it marks its tenth anniversary of serving the Republic of Ireland, Etihad will return to offering a double daily, year-round service between Abu Dhabi and Dublin from April 1, 2017. Both rotations will be operated with a two-class Airbus A330-200 offering 22 Business and 240 Economy Class seats and will see Etihad switch its flights from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1, starting January 24, 2017.
“We are delighted to announce the Dublin frequencies moving from a seasonal double daily to twice-daily year-round service. This is a commitment to the Irish market and demonstrates our confidence to dedicate capacity throughout the year on a route that has enjoyed tremendous support from travel partners. It also reflects our strategy to offer more flexibility, greater convenience and increased choice,” said Knight.
In the Spanish market Etihad will grow its flights into Madrid from its existing four times weekly schedule to a daily operation from June 1, 2017. This route, also flown using an A330-200, will strengthen the air bridge between the two capital cities and appeal more to corporate and leisure travellers and meet strong demand since the route commenced in March 2015.
“The extra flights will cater to the strong demand between the two capital cities, and connect our diverse international network even more with the Spanish capital and destinations across Spain and beyond, through our partners,” said Knight.
The additional services will provide a further 36 tonnes of freight capacity and boost visitor numbers to the heart of Spain’s tourism industry. They will also drive and support growing trade and cultural ties between the UAE and Spain, with many industries benefitting, including fashion, petrochemicals, construction, education, health care, transportation and tourism.