Etihad to launch service to Washington, D.C. in 2013


By Jeff Florian, Senior Reporter

Etihad Airways has announced plans to launch non-stop daily service between Abu Dhabi and Washington, D.C. from March 31, 2013, subject to receiving regulatory approvals.

The US capital will be Etihad Airways’ fourth destination in North America, after having launched service to Toronto in 2005, New York in 2006 and Chicago in 2009. According to the airline, the Washington metropolitan area represents America’s second-largest market flying to the Middle East, after New York.

“No other UAE carrier is offering nonstop services between D.C. and the UAE, so this capital-to-capital link is a huge opportunity for Etihad Airways,” said James Hogan, Etihad Airways CEO.

The carrier said the new service will further strengthen the already strong political and economic ties between the National Capital Region and the UAE. Last week, the US Department of Commerce released data showing that total trade volume between the US and the UAE rose to $18.3bn in 2011, a 43% increase from the year before.

This increase represents the highest trade volume to date between the US and UAE. It also means that, for the third consecutive year, the UAE is the single largest export market for US goods in the Middle East. The US is the fifth largest trade partner worldwide for the UAE.

“The point-to-point traffic between D.C. and Abu Dhabi is expected to contribute significantly to overall loads on the route. The schedule also allows maximum connectivity to key markets in the GCC, Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia,” added Hogan.

“The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area ranks as one of the strongest-performing economies in the country. Demand for premium cabins from the market is significantly higher than from other potential US destinations, so we forecast that our award-winning Diamond First class and Pearl Business class will be very popular. A large and fast-growing population in the D.C. metro area, coupled with increasing ties to the UAE, means that the demand for travel across all cabins will only increase.”

Etihad will operate its direct flights with three-class Airbus A340-500s. Each flight will offer 12 Diamond First class, 28 Pearl Business class and 200 Coral Economy seats, for a total of 3,360 seats per week.

Aviation analyst Saj Ahmad believes this new route will open up a huge market for Etihad and put pressure on Emirates to add service to the US capital. More infonline/online.js?js=v.1.0.6′ type=’text/javascript’>