CHENNAI: Come September and Etihad will faucet into the large demand for journey between India and America in an enormous approach. Whereas the airline’s Abu Dhabi hub, Zayed Worldwide Airport, has for years had US Customs and Border Safety (CBP) facility that lets flyers clear US immigration and customs there itself (thereby skip lengthy queues on arrival), it’s making some huge adjustments to get a much bigger pie of the profitable India-US market.
The Zayed Airport not too long ago acquired a brand new terminal. The US CBP is at the moment housed within the outdated terminal. “This September the CBP will transfer to the brand new terminal that can, amongst different issues, have a devoted first and enterprise class lounge particularly for pre-cleared (to US) passengers. Additionally we have now deepened our partnership with two US carriers — American Airways and Jet Blue. So our pre-cleared passengers will get seamless connections to 70 cities within the shortest doable time beginning at 45 minutes after flying into the US on our flights. The luggage will even be via checked-in to the ultimate vacation spot there with passengers not required to gather them within the first port of arrival within the US. Ditto on the way in which again,” Arik De, Etihad’s chief income & industrial officer, informed TOI.
“With all of the checks out of the way in which earlier than you take-off, you possibly can merely decide up your luggage and go while you land within the US. Abu Dhabi has solely CBP facility within the Center East,” he added. Etihad at the moment flies to New York (JFK), Chicago, Boston and Washington. It plans to double its US presence earlier than the top of this decade. With its pre-clearance USP, Etihad is eying the India market in an enormous approach for filling up its flights to and from the US — a market the place neighbours Emirates and Qatar Airways are each very robust in.
The airline is among the many uncommon Gulf carriers that also has room, learn bilaterals, for extra flights to India. “Abu Dhabi has 50,000 seats per week to India of which together with Air Arabia Abu Dhabi about 42,000 seats are getting used. We’re rising flights to Bengaluru (going from 14 to 18 weekly); Kolkata (going to 7 to eight weekly) and beginning 4 occasions weekly to Jaipur on Might 16. The subsequent spherical of growth in India shall be in January-March 2025 once we get extra planes,” mentioned Kolkata-born De, who’s among the many first Indian origin professionals to rise to high positions at a number one Gulf provider.
Etihad is making extra adjustments to draw extra Indian passengers. For example, he has modified one thing a majority of Gulf carriers don’t do — they don’t take meals from India for his or her flights again dwelling as meals for each the path to India and again are uplifted at their hubs solely. “Of the 11 cities in India that we fly to, meal is being uplifted from 8-9 of them in India solely now. That ensures we serve contemporary meals to passengers from India to Abu Dhabi,” mentioned De, who was a Swiss nationwide by start and is now a Canadian.
Etihad has 5-6,000 crew members, of which 30% are Indians. “Our high three nationalities for cabin crew are Indians, Moroccans and Romanians.”
He doesn’t see the lengthy haul plans of IndiGo — which has ordered huge our bodies now — and the expansion of Air India as a problem to Etihad. “A rustic of over 1.3 billion individuals with a booming economic system, India actually could have its personal huge airways. There’ll all the time be marketplace for each the nonstop product (that AI provides far and huge and IndiGo will provide from subsequent 12 months). For instance, Mumbai-London has nonstops from AI, Vistara, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. But we have now 12% market share on that route,” De mentioned.
Etihad at the moment has 90 plane. It goals to have a fleet of 165-170 planes — virtually as many huge and slender our bodies — by 2030.


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