Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, will increase capacity on its daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne, introducing a new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from 1 December.
The three-class, 328-seat Boeing 777 will replace the current Airbus A340 fleet, delivering 252 more seats per week – a 12.3 per cent increase – between the capital of the State of Victoria and the capital of the UAE.
The service upgrade was announced in Abu Dhabi by James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, at a business dinner hosted by the Victorian Government and attended by 400 people.
“Melbourne is one of the best-performing routes in our global network, and has the highest passenger load factor of our three Australian destinations,” said Mr Hogan.
“Victorians are not only flying with Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi, an emerging business and leisure destination, but also on to destinations in the Gulf region, Middle East, Europe and Africa.”
Since launching flights between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi in March 2009, Etihad Airways has carried over 580,000 passengers on the route, including 162,112 last year. Already this year, a load factor of 87 per cent has been achieved, one of the highest in the airline’s network of 86 destinations.
“Our decision to increase capacity between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi reflects not only the growth we have achieved so far, but also our confidence in the Victorian market,” Mr Hogan said.
“In addition to increasing the number of seats we offer to Melbourne, we also continue to invest in the city, having opened a line maintenance base at Melbourne Airport and secured high-profile sponsorships of Etihad Stadium and the Melbourne Recital Centre.
The Honourable Louise Asher MP, Victoria’s Minister for Tourism and Major Events, and Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business, said: “The State Government of Victoria has been active in the UAE for over 15 years and our links with this key market across trade, investment and tourism continue to grow rapidly.
“Etihad Airways already has a well-established presence in Melbourne through its significant sponsorships across the city and we have developed a strong relationship with the airline over many years. This announcement of increased capacity to Melbourne will bring immense benefits to both the UAE and our State, and we can now look forward to boosting ties with the region even further.”
Etihad Airways’ three-class Boeing 777-300ER will offer eight seats in Diamond First class, 40 in Pearl Business class and 280 in Coral Economy class. The airline currently operates 13 Boeing 777s and will add a further five this year, enabling the increase in capacity to Melbourne.