Etihad Commences A330 flights
Etihad Airways,the national airline of the United Arab Emirates held an event to officiate the commencement of A330 to the Maldives on the 2nd of October 2014. The airline has successfully operated a return service with A320’s daily since First of November of 2011, from it’s home base in Abu Dhabi. The new wide bodied aircraft features 22 Pearl business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration and 240 Coral economy class seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.
The event itself was an elegant affair at the VIP lounge at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport with distinguished guests including Mr. Ibrahim Saleem, the Managing Director of Maldives Airports Company, Minister of Environment and Energy Mr. Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Economic Development Mr. Mohamed Saeed, Mr. Salah Shihab, Managing Director of Seagull Group under which Seagull Group acts as Etihad’s agent in ticketing and reservations in the Maldives. Also present among the guests were the General Manager of Etihad Airways to the Maldives, Mr. Hassan Al Hashemi and the former football star Mr. Mike Summerbee the brand ambassador for Manchester City Football Club. Upon arrival to the airport the guests were directed to the VIP lounge with a lively escort of ‘Boduberu’, local cultural music.
All attendees were on the runway to witness Etihad’s A330 landing to the Maldives, liveried in Manchester City FC’s colours and named as “Blue Moon Rising”. The aircraft was welcomed with a ceremonial water salute upon arrival.
Speaking at the function Mr. Saleem praised the airline for the continued success of the airline and thanked the airline for their significant contribution to the local tourism industry and economy.
Speaking on behalf of Etihad Airways Mr. Al Hashemi expressed gratitude to the Maldivian government and Maldives Airports Company for their cooperation and support in making it possible for the airline to achieve this success.
He stated that ” this new aircraft would allow us to increase the number of guests as well as cargo supporting both the tourism and fisheries industry; also it will help strengthening the relationship between United Arab Emirates and Republic of Maldives”. He highlighted on the increased capacity of seats to and from the Maldives going up from 1904 to 3668 per week.The brand ambassador for Manchester City FC said that ” I am delighted to be here today with you to help celebrate the start of A330 operations to the Maldives” and “offering more people the opportunity to see the beautiful islands”. After his speech he presented Mr. Saleem with a jersey signed by the current players of Manchester City FC.
Mr. Shihab of Seagull Group which represents Etihad Airways ticketing and reservations said “we are very happy with the increased passenger capacity as it allows us to accommodate more requests to travel on Etihad”. He also stated that “we have noticed a marked increase in demand for business class travel” and that “I am confident a lot of business travellers will prefer to travel on Etihad, specially to European destinations”. He said that this is due to the premium comfort and convenient connections. He went on to remark on the fact that guests coming into the Maldives will appreciate Coral economy class with the 2-4-2 configuration which allows convenience for families travelling together. He said that he believes that Etihad will play a very important role in bringing the maximum number of travellers and will be a preferred airline with its strength as a world leading airline and it’s dedication to provide maximum customer satisfaction.
When asked why Etihad has chosen to change the aircraft type to A330 Mr. Al Hashemi said ” the upgrade is mainly due to the growing demand specially during the winter season, coming in from Europe. We receive a lot of booking requests which we were unable to accommodate with the A320. And Also since we have been noticing an increasing outbound market as well as an increased cargo load; therefore, we have upgraded the aircraft to accommodate and host our guests more comfortably.”. He commented on the load factor which they have maintained an average of 90 to 95 percent to fully booked almost everyday since they started operations to the Maldives. He highlighted the successful operation to the Maldives saying “during the first period we have carried more than 240,000 inbound and outbound passengers since the start of operations to Maldives.
As remarked upon by Mr. Al Hashemi, Etihad has connections to over 450 destinations with their partnership with quite a number of leading airlines with convenient connections. The airline concluded a successful event and the A330 has been carrying more guests since then.