Monday, April 6, 2009

Etihad plans new flight to Kazakhstan capital

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, will launch non-stop flights starting on May 7 to Astana in Kazakhstan from its Abu Dhabi home base.

The airline will now fly to the Kazakhstan capital once a week from Abu Dhabi using an Airbus A319 aircraft.

Astana will become the second destination in Kaz-akhstan serviced by Etihad and also become the Abu Dhabi-based airline's 52nd destination in its expanding international flight network.

The announcement follows the launch of flights to Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, last December.

To facilitate the launch, Etihad's current four-times-a-week service to Almaty will be reduced to three a week.

Etihad will operate a two-class Airbus A319 configured to carry 110 passengers, with 20 seats in business class and 90 in economy class.

Flight EY294 will depart Abu Dhabi every Thursday at 10.05am and arrive in Astana at 4.35pm.

The return flight, EY295, will leave Astana on the same day at 5.35pm and arrive in Abu Dhabi at 8.25pm.

"Since the launch of our Almaty service in December 2008, commercial ties between the UAE and Kazakhstan have been significantly strengthened with several major investment projects being announced in recent months.

"It is against this positive backdrop that we launch our second destination in Kazakhstan, to the country's capital Astana," said James Hogan, Etihad Airways chief executive.

The timing of the new service will offer travellers convenient onward connections via Abu Dhabi to other destinations in Etihad's global network - particularly the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.

Since gaining independence in October 1990, Kazakhstan has benefited from major foreign investment, particularly in the oil and gas sector which has resulted in rapid economic growth.

Kazakhstan is already among the world's top 20 oil producers and expects to be one of the world's top oil exporters in the next decade or two, as foreign investment in new pipelines continues.

Kazakhstan is expected to pump more than 3.5 million barrels of oil a day in the coming decade.

The country also has ambitions to pump up to 45 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year by 2015.