Abu Dhabi / WAM
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday announced a 63 percent increase in full-year passenger traffic with partner Jet Airways to and from India, reinforcing the strength of the equity tie-up and the airline’s commitment to one of world’s largest travel markets.
Together, the airlines carried a record 3.3 million passengers between Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub and India in 2015, representing a sharp rise on the 2 million flown during the previous 12 months.
Etihad Airways became the first foreign airline to invest in an Indian carrier under the current Indian Foreign Direct Investment Rules when it invested US$750 million in Jet Airways for a 24 percent equity stake in 2013. Etihad Airways today operates 175 flights each week to and from 11 Indian gateway cities. The combined networks of Etihad Airways and Jet Airways offer over 250 weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and 15 cities across India.
Together, both carriers are the market leader in terms of travel between India and the UAE. In terms of the overall international market, they fly between them approximately 20 percent of all worldwide travellers to and from India representing a large share of the country’s booming air travel industry.
In addition, Etihad Airways Cargo operates 14 weekly freighters to four cities in India and flies around 120,000 tons of cargo each year in and out of the country, around nine percent of the total international market.
The figures underscore the importance Etihad Airways places on the Indian market, one of the airline’s largest sources of business, to its close partnership with Jet Airways, and reaffirm the strong ties between the UAE and India.
Trade between the two countries is estimated to grow by more than 60 percent in the next five years from the current level of around US$60 billion, with investments and imports/exports in a variety of sectors, including energy, defence, manufacturing, aerospace, health, education, tourism, science and technology. The UAE is the 10th biggest foreign, and largest Arab, investor in India. James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “Bilateral relations between the UAE and India continue to grow based on years of friendship and deep commitment to strengthen economic, cultural and trade ties.
“With Etihad Airways and Jet Airways together offering over 44,000 seats each week between Abu Dhabi and India, we are clearly are a key contributor to India’s dynamic economy. There is further room to grow and we are looking at the many opportunities that exist to develop our operations.
“Our investment in Jet Airways was aimed at being part of the Indian success story. Before the Jet deal, Etihad Airways carried only two percent of international traffic to and from India.
“We have helped bring Jet Airways back to profitability. Today, Jet Airways is our number one equity partner for revenue and passenger contribution on Etihad Airways, and India is Abu Dhabi’s number one source market for international visitors.”
“Etihad Airways’ hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport serves as a primary connector of air travel between India and rest of the world, offering consumers ease of transfer and more travel options through multiple frequencies from across India to Abu Dhabi and beyond.”