The additional flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with eight seats in First Class, 40 in Business Class and 280 in Economy Class. This will add more than 4,500 seats per week to the route, supporting strong two-way demand. It will also double the airline’s freight handling capacity providing new opportunities for trade.
The second daily non-stop flight will offer travellers more flexibility with two timings from which to choose and more than double the number of weekly flight connections.
Melbourne will now be linked to more than 50 cities across Etihad Airways global network, including 20 double daily services to popular destinations in the Middle East and Europe such as London (where guests will experience Etihad Airways’ new A380 aircraft), Manchester, Dublin and Beirut. In conjunction with its equity partners, Etihad Airways will offer double daily services to Rome and Milan with Alitalia, Berlin and Düsseldorf with airberlin, and Belgrade with Air Serbia.
There will also be new daily one-stop connections to destinations such as Edinburgh , Geneva, Madrid and Zurich on the Etihad Airways network, Stuttgart and Vienna operated by the Air Berlin Group, and Venice operated by Alitalia, and improved access to other key destinations such as Athens and Brussels.
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: “We commenced flights to Melbourne in 2009 and it has since become one of the strongest routes on our network. Together with Virgin Australia and our other partner airlines, we have built a large and loyal customer base which has asked us for more choice. Today, I’m pleased to answer that call by announcing a doubling of our award-winning services to Melbourne.
“The new schedule will offer our guests a choice of two convenient departure times and seamless connectivity over Abu Dhabi to the Etihad Airways and Etihad Partners’ global networks.
“Significantly, we will be the only airline offering double daily non-stop flights between Melbourne and the UAE, and twice daily one-stop services to a vast network of business and leisure destinations worldwide.”
Tourism and Major Events Minister John Eren welcomed today’s announcement: “Attracting new airline services is a longstanding and continuing priority for the Victorian Government as we seek to grow tourism across Melbourne and regional Victoria.
“Etihad Airways’ announcement represents another vote of confidence in Victoria as a leading tourism destination and will deliver greater choice for leisure and business travellers.”
Mr Hogan added: “Etihad Airways has close ties to Australia with significant investments in our workforce, infrastructure, tourism, and commercial partnerships across four states. Investing more resources into Victoria not only deepens this commitment but also delivers major economic benefits – particularly through Etihad Cargo, the airline’s freight operation, and its support for two-way trade.”
Since Etihad Airways commenced daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne in March 2009 the airline has carried more than 900,000 passengers on the route. The airline also has investments in sport, arts and culture, and community life in Melbourne through commercial partnerships with Etihad Stadium, Melbourne City Football Club, Sport Australia Hall of Fame, Melbourne Recital Centre and Islamic Museum of Australia.
The new double daily schedule for Melbourne increases to 42 the total number of flights the airline operates between its four Australian gateways and its Abu Dhabi hub in conjunction with partner airline Virgin Australia. This includes double daily flights to Sydney and daily services to Brisbane and Perth.