etihad flights set to boost uae links with italy
Commercial and cultural ties between Abu Dhabi and Milan are set to increase significantly with the launch of Etihad Airways’ new route to the Italian industrial and fashion centre on 2 September.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline will operate three flights a week to Milan, which will be Etihad’s ninth European destination, and takes place at a time when investment opportunities in both countries have never been greater.
At present the UAE’s Italian community stands at 2,000 and that figure continues to grow year-on-year. More than 80 Italian companies currently operate in the UAE and early demand for the new flights indicate that much of the traffic on the new route will come from the Italian business community.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said: “By offering more than 1,200 seats each week from Abu Dhabi to Milan, Etihad will play a key role in the growth of commercial and cultural ties between the UAE and Italy. Business and leisure travellers from both countries will be able to travel frequently, which will increase bilateral trade, especially in tourism.”
According to recent figures UAE-Italian trade amounted to AED17 billion in 2006, an increase of 28 per cent over the previous year. Furthermore, Italian exports to the UAE, in the period of January to April 2007, stood at AED 6.3 billion which is an increase of 30 per cent over the same period in 2006.
H.E. Ambassador Paolo Dionisi, the Italian Ambassador to the UAE, said: “The opening of the new Etihad flights to Milan will enhance relations between Italy and the UAE. This will bring the two countries closer in all sectors including business, tourism and investment. The direct connection between Milan and the UAE’s capital will also greatly boost Italian interests in Abu Dhabi and its growth as a global aviation centre.”
To mark the start of the new flights and the closer commercial and cultural ties, four of Abu Dhabi’s leading organisations - Etihad, Aldar, Mubadala and Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority - will host a VIP reception in Milan early next month.
More than 300 high-level guests are due to attend the Abu Dhabi reception at Milan’s world-famous Castello Sforzesco Palace on Saturday 8 September, the night before the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The event aims to build on cultural and business interests which will prosper further following the launch of Etihad’s new flights. Among major UAE-Italian projects already underway is the 2,500-acre Ferrari Experience on Al Yas island which is being constructed by Aldar.
The Ferrari Experience, scheduled to open in 2009, will be a "high-tech" theme park and will feature simulator rides, roller coasters, an interactive museum and a theatre with an Italian-themed play and a race track.
Initial demand for the new Abu Dhabi to Milan service has also been considerable because of the introductory fares Etihad is offering its air travellers. Return fares start from AED1330 for economy, AED7330 for business class and AED9330 for first class.
Etihad will operate a three-cabin A330-200 aircraft which is configured to carry 12 passengers in first class, 26 in business class and 164 in economy, a total of 202 passengers.