Dubai: Flights to Saudi Arabia, India and the UK are providing the biggest boost for Etihad Airways in recent weeks – and with the prospect of growing even more.
“There has been so much pent-up demand - what we see is mainly on the leisure side,” said Fatma Al Mehairi, Etihad’s Vice-President for Sales. “Corporate travel will take a bit of time to get back, what with all the Zoom calls and video conferencing [still happening].
“Apart from that, we're very excited about the checkpoints between Abu Dhabi and Dubai being removed, in perfect timing for the Expo.”
When it comes to the VFR (visiting friends and relatives) traffic, Etihad is seeing most traffic to Cairo and Jordan.
In the leisure segment, Europe and US are back to being among the top markets for the Abu Dhabi airline. “We also have the islands - we have opened some seasonal routes like Mykonos, Santorini and Malaga,” the official said. “On top of that, (there are) Maldives and Seychelles.”
Etihad has announced that it will increase its Seychelles service from four to five weekly flights from October 7. The carrier will also operate seven additional services between October 15 and October 24 October to coincide with the half-term holidays.
“Seychelles is a one-of-a-kind destination, and with vaccinated travellers in the UAE being able to fly there and back without quarantine, it is the perfect destination for a short getaway or a longer family holiday,” said Martin Drew, Etihad’s Senior Vice-President for Sales and Cargo, in a statement.
Heading to Europe
UAE residents are putting European cities at the top of their next – and imminent - holiday plans. In fact, 56 per cent of respondents in a dnata Travel poll said they have narrowed down their choice to a destination in Europe. More than half plan to stay for a one- to two-week duration, a “significant increase in room nights compared to previous years” when the average would have been three to four nights.
This urge to travel – anywhere - might explain why people flocked to Etihad’s pop-up stand at Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates last week. The airline was offering a 50 per cent discount to those booking their next flight from the stand.
“A lot of other campaigns are coming,” said Al Mehairi, without getting into the specifics.