The national airline of the UAE is temporarily ceasing direct flights to Sri Lanka. Instead, it will fly to Colombo via a scheduled stop in Male.
The route change will come into effect from June 1, when indirect services to Sri Lanka via Male will operate on both outbound and inbound flights.
“Like many airlines, due to ongoing global supply chain challenges, Etihad has faced some delays in the arrival of new aircraft,” an Etihad representative told The National.
“As a result of this, to better meet travel demand across our network, we have temporarily adjusted our Abu Dhabi—Colombo service to operate via a short stop in Male, Maldives, starting 1 June 2023. Guests will not need to disembark the aircraft in Male.”
According to the new schedule, flights to Sri Lanka via the Maldives will have a travel time of about seven and a half hours, compared to the airline’s current non-stop service which has a journey time of four hours and 40 minutes.
Travellers flying to Sri Lanka will remain on the aircraft in the Maldives.
“For the comfort and safety of our guests, the aircraft cabin will be cleaned in Male before proceeding on to its final destination. Guests will need to remain on board the aircraft”, the airline confirmed in an online statement.
Waiting times at Velana International Airport are expected to be upwards of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Etihad's routing change on flights to Sri Lanka is temporary, but no end date has been confirmed by the airline.
Airfares on the indirect route to Sri Lanka remain unchanged, with return fares in economy class starting from Dh820, according to the latest price information on Etihad’s website.
“We remain committed to the Sri Lankan market and look forward to connecting our guests to this diverse and inspiring island as its tourism sector continues to rebuild,” said the Etihad representative.
The airline is expanding its network this summer with new routes to popular holiday destinations in Europe, including Malaga, Mykonos and Lisbon.