Etihad launches direct flights to Basra

Tuesday, 17 April 2012 00:34 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has launched its inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to Basra, making it the airline’s third destination in Iraq.

The new Airbus A320 service, with 16 Pearl Business class seats and 120 seats in Coral Economy class, will operate four times a week from April 15.

 “These new services are an important step for Etihad Airways and for the UAE, reflecting a commitment to strengthening ties in the region,” Etihad Airways president and chief executive officer James Hogan said.

 “Basra is an important industrial and transport hub but currently has limited access to air services. Our new flight will make a significant contribution to improving this situation for the people of the region.” Oil and gas represent the backbone of the local economy and major companies rotating staff in and out of Basra have expressed strong interest in the new flights. Abdulla Ibrahim Al Zowi Al Shehi, UAE Ambassador to Iraq, said: “We have witnessed the dramatic growth in bilateral relations recently between the two countries on all levels. Iraq and the UAE have great potential for cooperation and mutual development.”  “Etihad’s services to Baghdad, Erbil and now Basra are vitally important on government and social levels as they strengthen the bridges of understanding between Iraq and the UAE, as well as increasing trade and tourism.”

Arshad Tawfiq, Iraqi Ambassador to the UAE stated: “The opening of direct air routes by Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Basra, Baghdad and Erbil is an important step to promote trade and tourism between the two countries.”

 “It facilitates the movement of business people from both countries and paves the way for investors travelling to Iraq through the UAE to source opportunities in the country, as well as offering services to the Iraqi community residing in the UAE.”

Etihad Airways has been operating services to the capital, Baghdad, since April 2010, and Erbil in the north since June 2010.