Etihad to add daily flight connecting Abu Dhabhi to Thiruvananthapuram just for May

New Delhi: Etihad Airways will operate an additional daily flight on the Abu Dhabi-Thiruvananthapuram route and on the Abu Dhabi-Chennai route just for the month of May using its narrow-body aircraft, a top executive of the airline said on Thursday.

The airline currently flies one daily frequency to Thiruvananthapuram and two daily frequencies to Chennai.

"We have added another seven weekly flights to Chennai and another seven to Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram). So, Trivandrum goes up to 14 (weekly flights) and Chennai goes up to 21 (weekly flights) for the month of May," said Neerja Bhatia, Vice President, Indian sub-continent, Etihad Airways.

"It is only for the month of May at the moment. We will let you know we have any long-term plans (for these additional flights)," she told reporters.

Bhatia clarified that flight operations on the Abu Dhabi-Thiruvananthapuram route and on the Abu Dhabi-Chennai route would be carried out using narrow-body A320 family aircraft.

The airline is currently celebrating 15 years of operations to India from its hub Abu Dhabhi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Outside its home market of UAE, India is the number one market for the airline, said W Lindsay White, Vice President, Eastern Region, Etihad Airways.

"It was very close with the Australian and New Zealand market. But India has actually overtaken that market and has become number one, apart from the home market of UAE," White added.

Last year, the full-service carrier had started a fourth daily flight on its Abu Dhabi-Mumbai route due to high passenger demand. Etihad currently operates 161 return flights between Abu Dhabi and 10 Indian cities.

To a question, Danny Barranger, Senior Vice President, Global Sales, Etihad Airways, stated that it was not clear how the novel coronavirus would be affecting the airline's operations to other countries apart from China.

"It is a very fluid situation. It is changing day by day, week by week. Clearly, as far as China is concerned, we have suspended some flight operations. We are still operating to Beijing," he told the reporters.

"At the same time, we are looking where we can operate those assets (planes) in short term. At the moment, it is primarily China, we have not seen too much of the affect (of virus) in other markets. But we don't know how this virus is going to affect other countries," Barranger added.