Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will increase its Abu Dhabi-Minsk service from three flights per week to a daily schedule from June 15, 2013.
The carrier will also now offer onward connections from Minsk to the cities of Kiev, Moscow and Saint Petersburg through a new codeshare agreement with Belavia, Belarus’ national airline.*
The codeshare agreement will in turn see Belavia placing its B2 flight code on Etihad Airways’ flights from Minsk to Abu Dhabi, and onwards to Ho Chi Minh City, Melbourne and Sydney.*
The direct daily services, combined with codeshare connectivity, supports the growth in demand from business and leisure travellers, cementing the already strong ties between Belarus and the UAE.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “As demand continues to grow, as we continue to take delivery of more aircraft, and as we announce our codeshare agreement with Belavia, moving Minsk-Abu Dhabi to a daily return service is a logical next step.
“The route is an important one in Etihad Airways’ expanding global network, and partnering with Belavia is an important catalyst for further strengthening business and leisure traffic between Abu Dhabi and Belarus, and also to destinations over our combined Abu Dhabi and Minsk hubs.”
The UAE is one of Belarus’ main trading partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council. In 2012 Belarus’ exports to the UAE reached US$21 million, 122 per cent up on 2011, and imports from the UAE to Belarus amounted to US$17 million, up over 202 per cent on 2011.
Anatoly Gusarov, Belavia General Director, said: “This codeshare agreement will attract more passengers on Belavia and Etihad Airways flights. It is a first step on the way to strengthening cooperation between two national airlines.”
Etihad Airways and Belavia expect to achieve further codeshare synergies in the coming months, including integration of Etihad Guest and Belavia Leader frequent flyer programs, access to premium lounges for customers of both airlines, and codeshare route expansions.
Etihad Airways started operations to the Belarusian capital in August 2008 and since then has carried 105,000 travellers between the two cities.
The airline will continue to operate a two-cabin Airbus A319 aircraft on the route, featuring 16 seats in Pearl Business Class and 90 seats in Coral Economy Class. Overall weekly capacity and network connectivity will be boosted 130 per cent to 1,484 seats and 339 weekly connections respectively.
Via Abu Dhabi, the new flights will facilitate seamless onward connections with Etihad Airways’ daily services to cities such as Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney and Melbourne.
Etihad Airways continues to recognise the importance of the premium traveller flying to and from Belarus, offering a complimentary and personalised pick-up and drop-off limousine service to and from anywhere within a 60 kilometre radius of Minsk National Airport.
In recent times Etihad Airways has also made it easier for Belarusian nationals to obtain a UAE visit visa, through the TT Services online visa application centre.
*Subject to regulatory approvals