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Etihad plans growth in Thai market

By on Mar 09, 2012 in Hotel-Tourism

Published on The Nation dated 7 March 2012 by Bamrung Amnatcharoenrit

Etihad Airways, the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, sees strong potential in the Thai market with the Asean Economic Community due to land in 2015, but its expansion will be mainly via code sharing.

“I am delighted to be in Bangkok and to see for myself the continuing growth in the Thai market in spite of the challenges of last year, which is enabling us to launch our third daily service on the Abu Dhabi-Bangkok route with a Boeing 777-300ER on April 15,” James Hogan, president and chief executive officer, told the media yesterday.

Hogan also met with Bangkok Airways to discuss network and aircraft development. The local boutique airline’s regional routes are considered key to Etihad’s growth.

Etihad has a code-sharing agreement with Bangkok Airways to allow its passengers to access Thai destinations, such as Phuket, Samui and Chiang Mai via Bangkok, and neighbouring nations such as Burma, Laos and Cambodia.

Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi-Bangkok flights also continue on with Vietnam Airlines to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Abu Dhabi is still its hub.

On March 25, Air Berlin, Europe’s sixth-biggest carrier, which has Etihad Airways as its largest single shareholder, will start connecting Abu Dhabi and Phuket year-around with a daily service, after the Thai government gave its approval.

Since Etihad inaugurated its Thai service in April 2004, business has grown fast and Bangkok has become one of its most popular business and leisure travel destinations.

Last year, the eight-year-old airline carried more than 8.3 million passengers and this year is expected to welcome 10 million, even with the tough global economic environment.

From Abu Dhabi International Airport, Etihad Airways takes off to 84 passenger and cargo destinations with a fleet of 65 Airbus and Boeing aircraft. It has orders for 100 aircraft, including 10 Airbus A380s, the world’s largest passenger plane.

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