Etihad Airways plans to launch non-stop daily service between Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Washington, D.C.on March 31, 2013, subject to receiving regulatory approvals.
Washington D.C. will be Etihad Airways’ fourth destination in North America. 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 non-stop services between D.C. and the UAE, so this capital-to-capital link is a huge opportunity for Etihad Airways,” says James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ president and chief executive officer.
The new service will further strengthen the already strong political and economic ties between the U.S. national capital region and the UAE. Last week, the US Department of Commerce released data showing that total trade volume between the U.S. and the UAE rose to $18.3 billion in 2011, a 43 per cent increase from the year before.
This increase represents the highest trade volume to date between the U.S. and UAE. It also means that, for the third consecutive year, the UAE is the largest export market for U.S. goods in the Middle East. The U.S. 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,” says Hogan. “The schedule also allows maximum connectivity to key markets in the GCC, Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia.”
Adds 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 U.S. 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.”
In addition to strong economic ties between the United States and UAE, the two countries also have significant mutual investment in educational, technological and cultural sectors.
In the Washington region alone, there are a number of organizations that have a strong business presence in the UAE, or deep relationships with UAE institutions. Among those companies are the Carlyle Group, Hilton International, Lockheed Martin and Children’s National Medical Center. Respected local think tanks and policy organizations, such as the Brookings Institution and the US Institute of Peace, are also working closely with their counterparts in the UAE.
The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is expected to open later this year. New York University, which opened its downtown Abu Dhabi location in 2009, will expand its presence to include permanent campus facilities on Saadiyat Island in 2014. The Guggenheim is also scheduled to open its much-anticipated Abu Dhabi museum in 2017.
Etihad Airways 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.
Additionally, Etihad Crystal Cargo will offer belly-hold cargo capacity on services to D.C., with an anticipated load of 140 tonnes per week. The new route will complement existing online and connecting interline cargo services to and from North America.
Etihad Airways launched service to Toronto in October 2005, New York in October 2006 and Chicago in September 2009.
The carrier’s proposed flight schedule for its Abu Dhabi-Washington D.C. service calls for flight EY131 to depart Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) at 10.00 a.m. and land at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) at 5.00 p.m. local time, after a 15-hour non-stop flight.
In the other direction, flight EY130 is timed to leave IAD at 10.30 p.m. and touch down at AUH at 8:00 p.m. the following day, local time, after a non-stop flight of 13 hours 30 minutes.