Etihad Airways is set to commence daily flights to Perth on July 15, 2014.
The non-stop services between the airline’s hub and its fourth Australian gateway bring to 351 the number of weekly flights which Etihad Airways operates between Australia and Abu Dhabi.
An Airbus A330-200 aircraft with 262 seats – 22 seats in Pearl Business Class and 240 in Coral Economy Class – will fly the route.
Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive James Hogan said the new flights would be the first non-stop services between Western Australia and Abu Dhabi.
“The new services will build the first ever commercial air bridge between Perth and Abu Dhabi and will cater to the growing demand for travel between these two points and beyond to Africa, the Middle East and Europe,” he said.
“Our analysis shows there is a significant business opportunity on the Perth route. Overseas visitor numbers are growing at a steady rate of around seven per cent overall – with several markets to which we fly – such as Germany, France, Italy and Ireland – recording an increase in visitor numbers of between 8.5 per cent and approximately 30 per cent in the 2012/13 financial year. Significantly, arrivals from the Middle East grew at more than 104 per cent over the same period.
“Western Australians, too, are travelling overseas in increasingly large numbers with an average annual growth rate of 8.5 per cent over the past three years.
“Our flights are timed to offer travellers the convenience of daily departures and seamless connectivity to our global network over the Abu Dhabi hub,” he said.
Hogan highlighted the importance of the airline’s partnership with Virgin Australia to the success of the route.
“Our partnership with Virgin Australia and codeshare flights to 14 towns and cities in its Western Australia regional network adds immensely to the strength of the business case for the route and the appeal of our consumer offering,” he said.
“From day one, travellers throughout Western Australia will be able to connect seamlessly in Perth to our international flights; likewise, international travellers will have the opportunity to explore the state’s abundant visitor attractions and diverse landscapes.
“Together, we will offer travellers a winning proposition – the convenience of a single ticket purchase, through-checked baggage, convenient flight connections, and best-in-class service.
“We will also be well positioned to contribute to the economic development of regional centres through increased state-wide tourism flows and look forward to working with tourism authorities to achieve this outcome.”
Hogan also identified a significant new opportunity for revenue growth from the business travel segment and from freight.
“Eighty of the top 300 Australian companies have their headquarters in Perth and many of these have commercial interests in Africa and the Middle East. Equally, many UAE businesses have a strong presence in Australia, particularly in the agribusiness, resources and tourism sectors. We anticipate that this will translate to strong demand for our new services,” he said.
“On the cargo front, we will aggressively pursue a stake of the current volume of outbound freight and will look to develop additional revenue streams from areas that have not yet been fully developed.”
Etihad Airways codeshares with Virgin Australia to Albany, Broome, Busselton, Derby, Esperance, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Kununurra, Karratha, Learmonth, Paraburdoo, Port Hedland, Ravensthorpe and Newman.
The new Perth flights augment Etihad Airways’ existing services to Australia – double daily to Sydney in conjunction with Virgin Australia, and daily to Brisbane and Melbourne.
The new flights will help increase international visitation to Western Australia and grow the visitor economy, according to the Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF).
TTF Chief Executive Ken Morrison said this is great news for Western Australia.
“Direct daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Perth connect Western Australia to the growth hub of the United Arab Emirates,” Morrison said.
“International arrivals from the UAE to Australia are up 22.2 per cent so far in 2013, following on from 14.1 per cent growth for the same period last year.
“Aviation capacity has played a big part in that growth.
“In addition, Etihad flies to dozens of destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, putting Perth just one stop away from a host of other international source markets.
“For many travellers, convenience is a factor in their decision making, so one-stop flights remove a critical barrier by reducing travel time and making access easier.
“In addition, these flights will encourage dispersal by international visitors because passengers can seamlessly transition from an Etihad flight onto a Virgin Australia domestic or regional service.
“These flights will help Australia reach its goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure to $140 billion by 2020 and allow tourism to fulfil its potential as an economic development strategy for Australia.
“Attracting more international services to Perth has been a big focus for Tourism WA over the past four years and it is pleasing to see those efforts bearing fruit.
“The WA government has embarked on a wide-reaching review of the state’s entire aviation strategy, to which TTF has contributed, and we are looking forward to reviewing the final strategy when it is published next year,” he said.