Abu Dhabi / Emirates Business
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, introduced Mumbai to its Airbus A380 network with the launch of daily scheduled flights featuring its award-winning The Residence â€“ the worldâ€™s first three-room suite on a commercial airliner.
Flight EY204 from Abu Dhabi landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai on Sunday on the celebrated occasion of Maharashtra Day, the 56th anniversary of the stateâ€™s formation. Mumbai becomes the airlineâ€™s fourth A380 destination following London Heathrow, Sydney and New York, with Melbourne set to join on June 1.
Etihad Airways senior management team led by Mohammed Al Bulooki, Vice President Commercial UAE, flew on the inaugural flight, arriving to a traditional lamp lighting ceremony attended by officials from the airline and Mumbai airport operator, GVK.
The choice of Maharashtra Day to launch the worldâ€™s largest passenger jet to India reinforced the airlineâ€™s commitment to the country; to meet an increase in demand for air services; and to support growing trade and tourism in India.
With the aircraft upgrade, Etihad Airways is able to offer an all-A380 daily service in both directions between Mumbai and New York JFK International with a seamless connection over Abu Dhabi, along with the unique USA customs border protection which enables guests to pre-clear US customs in Abu Dhabi. The service is operated as a codeshare flight with Etihad Airwaysâ€™ strategic Indian partner Jet Airways.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said: â€œEtihad Airways is a young, innovative airline, yet a long-time supporter of the buoyant Indian aviation industry, operating to this diverse country since 2004 when Mumbai became the launch pad of our operations here.
â€œBringing our flagship product to India with additional seat capacity demonstrates our overwhelming undertaking to one of the worldâ€™s fastest growing economies, helping fulfil growing demand and meeting travellersâ€™ expectations for superior products and services. Key feeder markets to and from Europe, North America and the Middle East will also benefit greatly from the upgraded service.
â€œOur commitment to India is unequivocal, having built a robust and successful route network with our own dedicated services and those of our partner Jet Airways which, combined, give us 20 per cent market share, making us the largest contributors of passenger traffic to and from India, bigger than any other international airline.â€
The two carriers currently operate 254 flights a week from 15 destinations in India to Abu Dhabi and beyond to a wide network of cities across all Continents. Both carriers codeshare on each otherâ€™s services to and from India.
The inaugural A380 Mumbai operational crew included 22 all-Indian cabin crew and Indian pilots, Captain Ramesh Krishna, from Hyderabad, and First Officer Irfan Rizvi, from Mumbai.
Etihad Airwaysâ€™ A380 features a total capacity of 496 seats â€“ up to two guests in The Residence, nine First Apartments, 70 Business Studios, and 415 Economy Smart Seats.
The A380 operates on one of the five-daily scheduled flights between Mumbai and Abu Dhabi. Etihad Airways operates three flights and Jet Airways operates two.
The Mumbai A380 also offers guests with connections to and from popular destinations such as London, Paris, Manchester, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Bahrain, Doha and Jeddah.Â