Where to travel in 2023 as UAE airlines announce 10 new routes

Flights to the likes of Lisbon, Kolkata and Copenhagen are on the horizon. Here's a breakdown of what to know

Flydubai will launch a service to Sardinia's capital Cagliari in June. Photo: Flydubai
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With travel demand showing no signs of slowing this year, airlines in the UAE have been busy expanding their networks.

Ahead of the peak summer season, there’s a flurry of new easily reachable destinations for travellers to consider.

Whether you want to explore Portugal’s cosmopolitan capital Lisbon or take a budget flight to India’s Kolkata, here are 10 new flight routes on the horizon.

1. Abu Dhabi to Lisbon with Etihad Airways

The national airline of the UAE will begin flying direct to Lisbon this summer. From July 2, Etihad Airways will operate three flights per week to the Portuguese capital on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays.

As one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, the coastal city is a fantastic spot for those seeking culture, culinary delights and lively nightlife.

2. Dubai to Tokyo-Haneda with Emirates

From April 2, travellers flying to Japan will have another option for getting there as Emirates adds more flights to the country’s bustling capital. The Dubai airline is launching direct daily flights to Tokyo-Haneda for the first time since before the global pandemic.

Operated via the airline's new fleet of Boeing 777s, premium passengers will be able to fly in Emirates’ much-celebrated first-class suites.

While the airline already flies to Tokyo-Narita, travellers can opt to fly into Haneda, which has closer proximity to central Tokyo, as well as the option of much more domestic connection to destinations across Japan.

3. Abu Dhabi to Copenhagen with Etihad Airways

If Denmark is calling, keep an eye on Etihad’s winter schedule. The Abu Dhabi airline is launching flights to Copenhagen for the first time in October.

It will operate four weekly flights to the Danish capital, one of Scandinavia’s most popular tourist destinations that is famous for its colourful canals, cosmopolitan cafe culture and unique attractions.

Flights will operate via Etihad’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with 28 seats in business class and 262 in economy.

4. Abu Dhabi to Dusseldorf with Etihad Airways

While Etihad previously operated to Germany’s Dusseldorf, flights to the city were suspended owing to Covid-19. However, they are set to restart in October.

From Abu Dhabi, there will be three weekly flights direct to Dusseldorf, Etihad’s third destination in Germany after Frankfurt and Munich. Lying on the banks of the Rhine River, the city is famed for its arts and music scene, as well as being renowned as the fashion capital of Germany.

5. Abu Dhabi to Kolkata with Air Arabia and Etihad Airways

Travellers intent on flying to Kolkata this year will be spoiled for choice, with Air Arabia Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways both launching routes to India’s third-largest city.

Famed for its temples, theatres and colonial architecture, Kolkata will be served by low-cost airline Air Arabia Abu Dhabi from March 15. The airline will operate three times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays with one-way fares starting from Dh499.

And the UAE’s national airline is resuming direct daily flights to Kolkata, with services launching on March 26. Return fares with Etihad start from Dh1,145.

6. Dubai to Shymkent, Kazkahstan, with flydubai

Low-cost airline flydubai is resuming services to Shymkent in Kazakhstan for the first time since Covid-19.

Travellers heading to the vibrant traders' town can fly twice weekly from Dubai starting from February 28. Flight time is less than four hours to the central Asian city, which features buzzing bazaars, ancient architecture and natural scenery. Visit in spring to see wild tulips blanket the region. Shymkent is flydubai’s third destination in Kazakhstan.

7. Sharjah to Kuala Lumpur with Air Arabia

Air Arabia is resuming direct flights to Kuala Lumpur from March 20. The low-cost airline will operate three flights per week from Sharjah International Airport to the Malaysian capital next month. This will further increase to daily flights from June.

Kuala Lumpur, the largest city in Malaysia, is known for its numerous landmarks, beautiful beaches and Islamic architecture and is a hub of culture and modernity.

8. Dubai to Mogadishu with flydubai

Flydubai is launching flights to the Somali capital, Mogadishu. It’s the first time a UAE airline has operated in the African city and the route is expected to serve primarily transit and business passengers.

Daily services from Dubai will begin on March 8, with the frequency increasing to double daily flights in June.

Hamad Obaidalla, chief commercial officer at flydubai, said: “We continue to look for opportunities to grow our network in East Africa and open up underserved markets. This region has seen significant economic growth and development in recent years, our direct flights will further stimulate the economy and help create free flows of travel and trade.”

Mogadishu is flydubai’s 11th destination in Africa.

9. Dubai to Sardinia with flydubai

If summer in Italy appeals to you, flydubai’s new route to Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, could be just the ticket. Launching on June 22, just in time for peak travel season, flights will depart Dubai on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

It’s the first direct scheduled international connection operated in Sardinia, a place famed for its coastal drives, untouched beaches and rock formations. And Cagliaria is the most Italian-style city on the island, making it the perfect place to start any trip.

10. Dubai to Christchurch with Emirates

Having already announced it is ramping up operations to Australia, Emirates is also restarting flights to Christchurch, via Sydney.

The Dubai airline’s longest route will return for the first time since the pandemic on March 26, with flights departing first for Sydney and then taking off 1 hour and 45 minutes later for Christchurch, on New Zealand's south island.

Christchurch is popular among tourists as somewhere considered to be constantly evolving, with tourists able to see ever-changing street art, stay in funky hotels and explore a multitude of green spaces.

Ten destinations within five hours of the UAE - in pictures

Updated: February 18, 2023, 10:13 AM