Etihad to add second daily flight to Melbourne
Etihad Airways will add an extra 4,500 seats a week to Melbourne when it launches a second daily flight from August, catering to strong demand in the Australian market.
Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, has become one of the strongest routes on the airline’s network, said James Hogan, the president and chief executive of Etihad. “Together with Virgin Australia and our other partner airlines, we have built a large and loyal customer base, which has asked us for more choice.”
The Abu Dhabi airline said it has carried nearly 900,000 passengers since launching the route in March 2009.
Etihad also owns a 21.24 per cent stake in Virgin Australia, in what is known as an “equity alliance”. Together they offer flights between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, Brisbane and Perth in Australia.
Despite the growth potential coming from Australia, analysts warn against the weaker Australian dollar, which can hurt income in the short-term.
“The increases Etihad has outlined will potentially see it grow over 75 per cent in three years. Depending on what carriers do, Etihad could be one of the ten largest airlines serving Australia,” said Will Horton, a senior analyst at the Centre for Aviation.
“Increased frequency is important for the network. Given the larger landscape of tremendous international growth into Australia, there are near-term pressures on yield exacerbated by weakness in the Australian dollar.”
According to Etihad, Melbourne will now be connected to 50 cities in the Middle East and Europe, including Beirut, Manchester, Dublin and London, which will be served by theA380 super jumbo.
The extra cargo capacity afforded by the flight will benefit Australian meat exporters from Victoria, which is a major meat exporter.
Etihad will deploy a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft for its second flight to Melbourne. The flight will have eight seats in first class, 40 in business and 280 in economy.
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Published: December 22, 2014 04:00 AM