Etihad to launch economy only flights

Airline readies to rival budget carrier flydubai

Etihad CEO James Hogan.
Etihad CEO James Hogan.

Etihad Airways said on Thursday it was ready to position itself as a rival to budget carrier flydubai by launching economy only class flights to selected destinations.

James Hogan, the Abu Dhabi carrier's CEO, told Arabian Business that it would launch two economy class only aircraft from October.

Two Airbus A320 planes will be reconfigured to carry a total of 162 passengers, an increase of 42 economy seats on the normal configuration.

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Destinations for the low cost flights will include Doha, Alexandria, Egypt; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Damascus, Syria; Calicut, India and Thiruvananthapuram, also in India.

Hogan said in an interview: "The launch of the all economy class aircraft is the beginning of a new era for Etihad."

Plans are in place to expand the all economy fleet to 10 aircraft which will enable the airline to launch new short haul destinations which have low demand for premium travel, the airline added in a statement.

Low cost airline flydubai, which launched just over a year ago, has flown over one million passenger to date, and has a route network of 22 destinations.

It has a fleet of nine Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft, and has operated almost 8,000 flights with 85 percent of those departing on time.

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