Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi) has announced its plans to acquire the five Boeing 777-200 LRs (Longer Range) from Air India (Mumbai). The airline issued this statement:
The two carriers signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) in Mumbai earlier this week paving the way for the deal.
The 777-200 LRs will be used on the airline’s new route between Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles, which starts on June 1, 2014.
Etihad Airways currently flies to New York (JFK), Chicago (O’Hare), Washington (Dulles), DC and Toronto (Pearson) in North America, and to São Paulo in Brazil, and has stated its ambition to add new services to both continents.
Subject to approvals, the aircraft will be delivered to Etihad Airways from the beginning of 2014 and each will be re-fitted in a three class cabin configuration consistent with similar aircraft in the Etihad Airways fleet. It is expected the first aircraft will enter service in April 2014.
The purchase comes as Etihad Airways finalizes details on a new fleet order which will meet its organic growth and expansion requirements to 2025 in line with its rolling network plan.
The Boeing 777-200 LR, of which less than 60 were manufactured, has a design range of 17,370 km, allowing it to connect almost any city in the world from Etihad Airways’ hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The five Air India 777-200 LR aircraft, which Etihad Airways is purchasing, are on average, six years old, helping the airline to maintain its overall position of having one of the most modern fleets in the industry.
Etihad Airways’ current fleet will reach 87 aircraft by year end, with 14 new deliveries from aircraft manufacturers during 2013.
In other news, Etihad has announced it will increase its share in Virgin Australia Holdings to 19.9 percent. At 19.9 percent, Etihad Airways has reached the threshold approved by Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board in June 2013.
Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia Airlines (Brisbane) signed a 10-year strategic partnership agreement in August 2010 that includes code-sharing on flights, joint sales and marketing activities, and reciprocal earn-and-burn on their respective frequent flyer programs.
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Finally, Etihad Airways and airBaltic (Riga) have announced a new Abu Dhabi-Riga joint route which will start on December 16, 2013.
The announcement follows the signing of a codeshare agreement between the two airlines. Subject to regulatory approvals, airBaltic will operate the new four weekly return flights using a 116 seat Airbus A319 aircraft.
With seating capacity for 14 Business class and 102 Economy class passengers, the flights will operate on a split schedule, ensuring optimal connectivity over each airline’s respective hubs in Abu Dhabi and Riga.
Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Air India’s Boeing 777-237 LR VT-ALD (msn 36303) prepares to touch down at London’s Heathrow Airport.