13/12/2013 - 10:12

Etihad to fly into Perth market

13/12/2013 - 10:12

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Etihad Airways has announced plans to launch daily flights between Perth and Abu Dhabi next year, meaning all three of the big Middle Eastern airlines will be operating out of Western Australia.

INCOMING: Etihad will provide flights to and from Perth starting as of July next year.

Etihad Airways has announced plans to launch daily flights between Perth and Abu Dhabi next year, meaning all three of the big Middle Eastern airlines will be operating out of Western Australia.

From July 15, Etihad will operate one flight daily to and from Perth, adding to its existing services in Australia – double daily to Sydney in conjunction with Virgin Australia and daily through Melbourne and Brisbane, with Virgin itself also operating three Sydney-Abu Dhabi services.

Etihad will join fellow Middle Eastern carriers Qatar Airways and Emirates to the WA market.

Qatar started its service to WA last year with thrice-weekly flights and now operates a daily circuit from Perth to Doha, while Emirates has two daily flights to and from Dubai.

Etihad will have a flight leaving Abu Dhabi at 10:10pm local time and arriving in Perth the next day at 1:10pm, with another departing Perth at 3:55pm and arriving in Abu Dhabi at 11:25pm the same evening.

An Airbus A330-200 aircraft with 262 seats will fly the route and the company will codeshare with Virgin to the regional flight network around the state.

“The new services will build the first ever commercial air bridge between Perth and Abu Dhabi and will cater to the growing demand for travel between these two points and beyond to Africa, the Middle East and Europe,” Etihad president and chief executive James Hogan said.

“Our analysis shows there is a significant business opportunity on the Perth route.

“Overseas visitor numbers are growing at a steady rate of around 7 per cent overall – with several markets to which we fly – such as Germany, France, Italy and Ireland – recording an increase in visitor numbers of between 8.5 per cent and approximately 30 per cent in the 2012-13 financial year.

“Western Australians, too, are travelling overseas in increasingly large numbers with an average annual growth rate of 8.5 per cent over the past three years.” 

Mr Hogan also identified a significant new opportunity for revenue growth from the business travel segment and from freight.

“Eighty of the top 300 Australian companies have their headquarters in Perth and many of these have commercial interest in Africa and the Middle East; many UAE businesses have a strong presence in Australia, particularly in the agribusiness, resources and tourism sectors,” he said.

“We anticipate that this will translate to strong demand for our new services.

“On the cargo front, we will aggressively pursue a stake of the current volume of outbound freight and will look to develop additional revenue streams from areas that have not yet been fully developed.”

Industry group Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Ken Morrison said the announcement was good news for WA.

"Direct daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Perth connect Western Australia to the growth hub of the United Arab Emirates," he said.

"International arrivals from the UAE to Australia are up 22.2 per cent so far in 2013, following on from 14.1 per cent growth for the same period last year."

Etihad is also seeking to raise its stake in Virgin from 20 per cent to 21.2 per cent after Virgin announced its $350 million capital raising, which Etihad has co-underwritten with Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines.

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