Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways has been awarded seven extra frequencies per week to Australia’s gateway cities following negotiations between the UAE and Australian governments in Canberra this week.
The new capacity grants will allow Etihad to operate an additional seven weekly services to gateway destinations of Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane. The airline has also been granted seven additional weekly frequencies on the provision that the services operate via regional cities, such as Cairns and Darwin. The new slots will become effective from March 2011.
Etihad currently flies from Abu Dhabi to Sydney 11 times per week, Melbourne seven times per week and Brisbane three times per week, and has a codeshare agreement with Qantas and interlines with Virgin Blue. The carrier could choose to use the additional slots to boost existing frequencies or to add new services, with the carrier previously signalling that it is interested in serving the Perth market.
While the negotiations have been fruitful for Etihad, Dubai based rival Emirates has confirmed that it has not secured any additional rights from the current round of talks, although it intends to press for more frequencies during the next round of negotiations in February 2011.