Regional route rundown: Etihad and Emirates add summer flights

All the latest airline news you need to know about this month

DXB closed for runway maintenance on April 16 and will reopen on May 30. Courtesy Dubai Airports

It’s been another month of action when it comes to all things aviation, with new destinations added to regional airlines’ route maps, upgraded jets and the ongoing closure of Dubai International Airport. Here’s what you need to know …

Seasonal spots

As we roll into summer there’s lots of seasonal news. Emirates is resuming its Croatia operations to Zagreb in partnership with flydubai. Operating four times per week until May 31, it will then up the ante and fly daily until October 26. Known for its history, culture and impressive 18th-century architecture, Zagreb also works as a good gateway destination for travellers keen to discover Split, Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian Coast.

If you're headed to the UK, then the news that Etihad is increasing its flight service to London may interest you. A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will supplement the current thrice-daily Airbus service. From May 26 until June 22, there will be four flights per day and for peak season - June 23 to September 28 - this will increase to five Etihad flights per day between Abu Dhabi and Heathrow.

For those flying out of Kuwait, Cyprus might be a good summer pick since Kuwait Airways is relaunching seasonal flights from Kuwait to Larnaca via Beirut, a route that it hasn’t served for more than 14 years. It will kick off on June 3 and run until September 12.

And with all things go in Saudi Arabia, it's no surprise that more airlines are launching direct flights to the kingdom: the latest is Azerbaijan Airlines, which will fly to Dammam, Hofuf and Riyadh from June until August all summer.

Winter on the horizon

Air France is going to be flying more frequently to Dubai during the 2019/2020 winter season with 13 flights per week from Charles De Gaulle airport to DXB starting from October 27 and running until March 28. Elsewhere, Finnair – the national carrier of Finland – is set to restart its seasonal Dubai to Helsinki flight later in the year.

For Emirates passengers headed to Sydney this winter, superjumbos await as the airline is switching its Boeing 777-300 for the popular Airbus A380 from December 1.

Air France will fly 13 times per week to Paris from DXB starting on October 27. Pixabay

Time to explore Malaysia?  

Low-cost airline Air Arabia has added another destination to its route network. The Sharjah-based airline will begin flying to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city from July 1. The daily seven-hour flight will take passengers to the heart of Asia and a city known for its gleaming skyscrapers, colonial architecture and fantastic street food. The low-cost airline is also set to revamp its in-flight entertainment system with a new model that will let passenger’s live-stream digital content.

Dubai airport closure

Speaking at the Arabian Travel Market, Emirates president Tim Clark confirmed all was going well with the runway closure at DXB, although he noted the timing of the works over Easter were not ideal. The chief executive of Dubai Airport Paul Griffiths also gave an update saying “DWC Airport is handling the influx of passengers very well indeed. Our customers are seeing the convenience of using DWC. It’s been a good opportunity for people to experience our brand-new airport."

Passengers can make use of the free shuttle service that is running between Dubai's two airports to help transport passengers from one to the other. Many flights, including 41 destinations serviced by flydubai, are now flying from DWC and some Air India flights have also been moved to Sharjah International airport. See the entire list of affected airlines. DXB is on track to be operational again by May 30.

No-frills flights

From June, low-cost Indian airline IndiGo will launch a new service to Abu Dhabi from Delhi and Mumbai giving passengers another budget option for trips to India’s two biggest cities. Travellers headed to the Philippines (or holidaymakers on a budget) will like Cebu Pacific’s newly launched pay-for-what-you-need service that aims to make visits to the archipelago more affordable.

Bring your own clubs

Golfers headed for Abu Dhabi can now bring their own clubs free of charge on Etihad Airways flights when they book their golfing holiday with Hala Abu Dhabi or Etihad Holidays. The move is part of the national airline's bid to help construct the capital as a global sporting destination.

The airline also launched the first ultra-long haul plastic-free flight flying from Abu Dhabi to Brisbane, revamped its economy offerings by changing its in-air dining services and announced more ergonomic seats.

Glasgow and Emirates make history

As the first regular A380 service to Scotland launched this month, thousands of people gathered to see the inaugural Emirates flight land in Glasgow after taking off from Dubai. The world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft with a wingspan of 79.8 metres and a double-decker cabin can accommodate 489 passengers and is servicing the Dubai-Glasgow route from April 17 until September 30. At the Arabian Travel Market on April 29, Emirates' president Tim Clark joked that having launched this new service and the Dubai-Edinburgh route, that the airline was now the "official airline of Scotland".

Upgraded services

From June 14 until August 4 Emirates is increasing its services to Durban. The additional flights will fly Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will see the introduction of Emirates first class experience. The Dubai airline has also introduced first class cabins on flights to Riyadh for the first time and will do the same on jets bound for Kuwait from April 16.

Etihad is also introducing Dreamliners on its services from Abu Dhabi to Johannesburg, effective from August 1, replacing the Airbus A330 that currently serves the daily route. The Abu Dhabi airline is also are changing Milan and Lagos flights to Dreamliner jets.

Making new friends

A new codeshare agreement between Emirates and LATAM airlines aims to give passengers more choice, flexibility and ease of connection across 17 cities in Brazil. Brasilia, Campo Grande and Manaus, known as the hub of the Amazon, are among the cities included in the network. As well as opening up undiscovered parts of Brazil for UAE travellers, the move will make visiting the UAE easier for Brazilians who no longer need to pre-apply for visas.

In other partnership news, Emirates and SpiceJet have teamed up to offer passengers from Dubai access to six more Indian cities, including Amritsar, Jaipur, Pune, Mangalore, Madurai and Calicut.


Read more:

Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia & more: new destinations and amended schedules to know

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Emirates to introduce new Boeing 777 first class cabins on Middle East flight