Etihad Airways is set to expand its presence down under over the next twelve months, after the Abu Dhabi-based airline secured up to 14 additional weekly frequencies to Australia.

Etihad's A340-600

The additional flights were awarded following bilateral negotiations between the UAE and Australian Government in Canberra this week and seven of the flights can be operated to any gateway in Australia which includes Etihad’s current destinations of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

The remaining seven weekly flights have been granted to Etihad on the condition that the operation also flies via or onto a regional airport and the new flight slots will be available from March 2011.

“The announcement that Etihad Airways has been granted up to 14 additional flights each week is an indication of the airline’s deepening bond with Australia,” said Etihad Airways CEO, James Hogan.

“We are committed to this important market and look forward to carrying greater numbers of business and leisure travellers from destinations across Etihad’s expanding network to Australia,” he said.

Etihad currently flies 21 times a week between Abu Dhabi and Australia. This includes 11 flights to Sydney, seven to Melbourne and three to Brisbane.

“Etihad’s presence in Australia continues to grow considerably,” Hogan said. “We are proud to have made significant investments in our work force and infrastructure in Australia as well as build strong ties with airports, airlines, tourism industry bodies and state governments.”