Etihad Airways announced that it would boost frequencies on five key European routes in 2011, and increase capacity on a range of other routes, adding depth to its network and improved connectivity through its Abu Dhabi hub as it takes delivery of new aircraft.

The European capacity increases, effective between June and August 2011, include the following routes:
• Paris, from 10 flights per week to a double daily service;
• Manchester, moving from daily to 10 flights per week;
• Geneva, increasing from five flights per week to daily;
• Milan, increasing from five flights per week to daily; and
Etihad will also:
• Move from five to daily flights on its Beijing services;
• Schedule a capacity increase to Bangalore which commenced on January 1 with four flights a week, and will move to a daily operation in summer 2011; and
• Operate a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with capacity to carry 412 passengers, to Chicago

The enhancements to the schedule mean that by October 2011, 74 per cent of Etihad’s flight network of 66 destinations will be served by at least daily flights.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said: “As we take delivery of new aircraft in 2011, our focus is on offering at least a daily service on key business routes – and wherever possible, a double-daily service – to attract a greater share of the corporate travel market.

“At the same time, the new schedule will help us offer greatly improved connections across the network, making transiting via Abu Dhabi much more convenient for business and leisure travellers. In fact, our sub-four hour connections will increase by 50 per cent.

“We will continue to look at the best ways of deploying our aircraft, looking at the optimum use of our three-class, two-class and all-economy aircraft to ensure we have the right mix of capacity and product for each of our 66 destinations.”

Mr Hogan said the increase in flight frequencies would be supported by the delivery of five new wide-body passenger aircraft – three A330-300s and two B777-300ERs – during summer 2011.

Etihad will continue its retro-fit program for the wide and narrow body aircraft currently in its fleet. This will see greater efficiencies in the premium cabins and five additional rows of seats in the economy cabin on its A330-300 aircraft.

Mr Hogan said: “Abu Dhabi continues to grow as a business and leisure hub and Etihad’s retro-fitted aircraft, newly delivered aircraft, and flight frequency increases, will ensure that greater numbers of travellers will visit the UAE’s capital in the coming years.”

By the third quarter of 2011, Etihad will have 62 passenger and cargo aircraft in operation.

“2011 will be one of the most important years in Etihad’s history, as we add depth and scale to our operation, build on our impressive growth of the past seven years, and move towards our break-even target by year-end,” Mr Hogan said.