Etihad Airways will expand capacity on two important Asian destinations as pandemic restrictions continue to disappear. The Middle Eastern carrier is expected to add one additional weekly frequency on its flights to Shanghai (PVG) and double its current offer of flights to Bangkok (BKK).
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier cites increased demand for flights to China and Thailand, adding more capacity for flights to Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Bangkok.
The new flight to Shanghai will complement the airline’s current weekly flight to Beijing and the recently inaugurated twice-weekly flights to Guangzhou.
In October, Etihad launched flights between its hub in Abu Dhabi to Guangzhou, becoming the first international carrier to operate long-haul flights to the three largest cities in China since the pandemic.
According to the airline, pending regulatory approval, the additional flight to Shanghai should launch in February. Etihad Airways plans to operate the route with its Boeing 787 or 777 aircraft.
The airline’s SVP for Global Sales and Cargo, Martin Drew, noted that the additional flight follows the further relaxation of Covid-related travel measures in China, coupled with increased demand.
“China is a market of primary importance to Etihad, and as one of the country’s largest financial and economic centers, Shanghai plays a crucial role in our network,” said Drew. “Etihad is committed to developing our operation in China, and we look forward to welcoming more travelers on board in the new year to experience our award-winning hospitality.”
Likewise, the expansion of Etihad’s capacity to Bangkok follows an increase in passenger demand in Thailand. As a result, the Middle Eastern carrier will double its flights to Bangkok, totaling 14 weekly flights starting March 26, 2023.
The new flights to Bangkok have been arranged so passengers can arrive in Abu Dhabi early morning or afternoon. “With our convenient morning departure from Abu Dhabi, our second Bangkok flight has optimized timings for those UAE residents wishing to have a break in Thailand,” explained Arik De, the newly appointed Chief Revenue Officer.
“The return departure from Bangkok allows for those Thai residents to arrive in Abu Dhabi in the morning to have a head-start in exploring what the city has to offer in terms of business and pleasure,” De said.
According to Etihad, the new flight to Bangkok is set to depart from Abu Dhabi at 10:30 a.m., arriving in the Thai capital at 8 p.m. The return flight departs at 02:25 a.m., arriving back at the airline’s hub by 6 a.m.
New York Gets Upgraded, Too
In addition to doubling its flights to Bangkok and increasing capacity to China, Etihad will also boost its route to New York with two daily flights, seven days a week. According to the carrier, these flights will be operated with the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Adding seven weekly flights to New York translates into Etihad flying 28 weekly services to the U.S.
Boosted by its codeshare agreement with JetBlue, Etihad’s passengers can book flights from Abu Dhabi to as far as the Caribbean with any of JetBlue’s connecting flights in New York.
Drew noted in December that the response to the airline’s services to the U.S. has been positive. “Our guests traveling to the U.S. can use our pre-clearance facility, the only U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in the Middle East. This allows passengers bound for the U.S. to process all immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections in Abu Dhabi before they board, avoiding immigration queues on arrival in the U.S.”
Etihad Back in the Game
With the disappearance of global travel restrictions and the arrival of Antonoaldo Neves (the airline’s newly appointed CEO), several changes have been implemented into the airline’s network.
Neves, who comes from two successful tenures as President of Azul in Brazil, and CEO of TAP in Portugal, was brought to Abu Dhabi to replace the departing Tony Douglas after the Emirati government transferred Etihad’s ownership to wealth fund ADQ.
In early January, Etihad created a new revenue division and promoted Arik De to Chief Revenue Officer. De, who worked at TAP with Neves, will now oversee the airline’s revenue management, distribution and e-commerce, network planning, alliances and joint ventures, industry affairs, and the airline’s Etihad Guest loyalty program.
As part of the changes implemented by the airline, the Airbus A380 is slated to return to service. According to Etihad, the Super Jumbo will return to the airline’s mainline for the busy summer season.
At the time of the announcement, Neves noted that bringing the A380 back would “satisfy the demand which has made them financially viable once more.”
Overall, Etihad’s current route and capacity expansion follow a coordination of efforts imposed by the airline’s new executives, hoping to revert the negative trend that has overwhelmed the airline for the best of the last decade.