India's Jet Airways yesterday began operating seven flights a week from the south Indian town of Kochi to Kuwait City. All the flights will stop over in Abu Dhabi.
Etihad Airways is scheduled to take a 24 per cent stake in Jet in a deal awaiting final approval from the Indian government, which has delayed a decision as it seeks more information on the effective ownership and control of the new company.
Kochi is the first city in south India that Jet connects with Abu Dhabi.
Currently, it flies 11 times a week between Mumbai and Abu Dhabi and seven between New Delhi and Abu Dhabi.
"This new route provides a vital connection between two markets that are important for Abu Dhabi: India and Kuwait," said Ahmad Al Haddabi, the chief operations officer at Abu Dhabi Airports Company.
Jet shares closed at 450.80 rupees at the end of trading on Friday, down 3.21 per cent on Thursday, on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
Jet shares slumped to 411.6 rupees, a fall of 12.27 per cent last Monday after the Indian government's decision to seek information on the deal.
The new Kochi-Kuwait route via Abu Dhabi will operate with a Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft with a capacity of 170 people.
Jet, which connects 50 cities in India, announced the Kochi-Abu Dhabi sector last month. It flies to 20 international destinations including the Arabian Gulf.
"Our airline has enjoyed a successful partnership with Abu Dhabi International Airport and we look forward to expanding our relationship through this new route offering," said Jaleel Khaled, Jet's regional general manager.