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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Etihad axes flights to Edinburgh and Perth in ongoing review

But the Abu Dhabi carrier will boost flights to Morocco

Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi state carrier, will axe flights to Perth and Edinburgh but boost services to two cities in Morocco as part of its ongoing operational review. The National / Roland Magunia
Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi state carrier, will axe flights to Perth and Edinburgh but boost services to two cities in Morocco as part of its ongoing operational review. The National / Roland Magunia

Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways will stop flying to Edinburgh in Scotland, and Perth in Western Australia, from October 1, as it reviews its business operations.

“[The cancellations are] part of an ongoing review of network performance … and one of several adjustments that we are making to our network in 2018 in order to improve system profitability,” the airline said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Along with our travel agency partners, we will work closely with impacted guests to notify them of the changes to their itineraries and re-accommodate them on alternative flights.”

Etihad launched an operational review at the end of 2016, after reporting a $1.87 billion loss it attributed mainly to aircraft impairments and equity investments in loss-making European airlines – some of which it has now exited including Alitalia, Air Berlin and Swiss carrier Darwin Airline.

Last November, the airline said it would axe its Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, route from this March, in response to US carrier American Airlines’ decision to sever a codeshare agreement with Etihad this July. The carrier said the route would become “commercially unsustainable” as a result.

Etihad continues to fly to London, Heathrow and Manchester in the UK, and Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane in Australia.

In a separate statement on Tuesday, the carrier said it would boost services to Morocco to meet increased demand to the North African country.

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From May 1 , a three-class Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will be introduced on the daily service from Abu Dhabi to the commercial hub of Casablanca. The aircraft has eight private first class suites, 28 business "studios" and 199 economy "smart seats".

Etihad’s latest route decisions are "prudent", according to Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at consultancy StrategicAero Research.

“In order to turn around the huge losses, Etihad is making prudent moves and expanding in other high-volume markets like Morocco,” said Mr Ahmad.

“That Etihad is axing a few routes that clearly aren’t working for them is evidence that the new management team are not shy about making sharp decisions like this."

“Not only will this augur well for Etihad’s existing network, operations and profitability, it also means they’ll be carrying fewer loss-making services that would otherwise be cross-subsidised,” Mr Ahmad said.

Former UK Ministry of Defence official Tony Douglas joined Etihad as its new group chief executive in January, replacing James Hogan, who left last summer.

Dubai’s Emirates also announced on Tuesday that it would be cutting the frequency of services to the United States, Europe and Asia in line with demand.

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