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Etihad expands operations ahead of Air India deal

india Updated: Sep 19, 2013 11:47 IST
Etihad Airways

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways is expanding operations with more flights and wide-bodied jets for its operrations in Indiafollowing the deal with Jet Airways, though it may be forced to delay it's September 30 deadline for the deal thanks to a petition in the Supreme Court challenging it.

The Abu Dhabi airline, which is buying a 24% stake in the Indian operator, announced a threefold increase in seats on the prime Abu Dhabi to Mumbai and New Delhi routes from November.

Etihad also intends to codeshare on a wide range of flights operated within India by Jet Airways.

"India is one of the world's fastest-growing destinations, and a key market in the growth strategy of Etihad Airways," president and chief executive James Hogan said in a statement.

"Following the recent signing of a new air services agreement between India and the UAE, we now have the opportunity to add significant capacity between the two countries."

The India-UAE agreement finalised earlier this month allows both countries' airlines to add 36,670 seats per week over three years to the current entitlement of 13,600 seats.

Etihad is fully-owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

By the end of the year, Etihad will operate twice-daily flights using wide-bodied aircraft on the Abu Dhabi-Mumbai and Abu Dhabi-New Delhi routes, compared with a daily flight currently. It also plans to upgrade Abu Dhabi-Chennai flights.

The accord had been criticised by opposition politicians who said it favoured Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, which in April agreed to a near-quarter stake in Jet Airways. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has also filed a suit in the Supreme Court challenging the Rs 2,058 crore deal.

Etihad and Jet are yet to close the deal. Pending final approvals, Etihad said earlier this month, it expected the deal to be cleared by Indian authorities "imminently".