Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

Airline and travel news: Emirates gears up for Mexico and Etihad is making connections

From low-cost airlines to new routes in the region, here's all the travel news you need to know this month

Emirates, the world’s biggest long haul carrier, is the most recommended brand by consumers in the UAE. Courtesy Emirates
Emirates, the world’s biggest long haul carrier, is the most recommended brand by consumers in the UAE. Courtesy Emirates

November is aviation history month so it makes sense that it has been a busy time for all things airline and travel related. From Emirates getting set to fly to Mexico to Etihad's new connections around the globe, here’s what’s been happening in the region's travel news.

Etihad is making connections

Etihad has been expanding its reach with codeshare agreements. Courtesy Etiahd
Etihad has been expanding its reach with codeshare agreements. Courtesy Etihad

Etihad announced Abu Dhabi’s first low-cost carrier last month. The national carrier of the UAE announced its joint venture with low-cost airline Air Arabia to form Air Arabia Abu Dhabi. The new airline is set to make flying in and out of the capital cheaper. More details on where the airline will fly and when it will launch have not been released but it’s an exciting development for the UAE aviation scene. A spokesperson for Etihad said more information was coming soon – watch this space.

In other Etihad news, the airline has partnered with Pakistan International Airlines to codeshare on flights to and from Abu Dhabi and Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Karachi. Pakistan International Airlines will codeshare on Etihad’s flights from the UAE capital to Amsterdam, Bahrain, Colombo, Chicago, Los Angeles and more. Tickets for the routes are already on sale with the first flight set to take off on Tuesday, November 26.

Etihad has also been making friends in Saudi Arabia. The Abu Dhabi airline is now code sharing with Saudia Airlines. From Sunday, October 27 the pair have collaborated on five routes including services to Australia, China and Moscow.

Emirates gears up for Mexico City and adds A380 flights

Emirates will fly to Mexico City from December. Courtesy Emirates
Emirates will fly to Mexico City from December. Courtesy Emirates

On Monday, December 9, Emirates will launch its new route to Mexico City, via Barcelona. The Dubai airline successfully battled a challenge on the flight path from Aeromexico, which also operates flights from Barcelona to Mexico City. Emirates said that flights are “on track” to begin flying next month and will be serviced by a Boeing 777-200LR. This is Emirates first destination in Mexico and tickets can be booked from now.

Emirates' popular A380 is set to serve flights to Munich in Germany next October. Throughout the month of October, a popular time for travellers heading to the Bavarian capital, daily flights will be served by a three-class A380.

Closer to home, an A380 is also now serving the Dubai to Cairo route. Emirates has also increased its flights to the Egyptian capital from 21 to 25 flights per week.

Travellers won’t get lost when flying Emirates

Emirates has launched a new airport map service in its passenger app to make finding your way around international airports easier. Courtesy Emirates
Emirates has launched a new airport map service in its passenger app to make finding your way around international airports easier. Courtesy Emirates

If you’ve got an upcoming Emirates flight, make sure you download the airline’s app for handy maps of major airports in the Emirates network. Available in 19 languages, the app uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to pinpoint travellers’ locations, then provides point to point navigation to wherever users want to go making it easier to track down gates, find places to eat, shop and rest.

New routes from Dubai International

DXB is the world's busiest airport for international passenger arrivals. Courtesy Dubai Airports 
DXB is the world's busiest airport for international passenger arrivals. Courtesy Dubai Airports

Travellers flying from Dubai International Airport to Pakistan now have more choice when it comes to getting to Faisalabad or Multan. Pakistan International Airlines launched its new twice-weekly services last month. The new flights mean that travellers looking to fly between Dubai and Pakistan have 268 flights per week to eight different destinations across Pakistan to chose from.

Elsewhere, Russian airline Pobeda made its DXB debut in October. Travellers set to fly to the Russian capital can now book flights on the airline which will fly four times per week from Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow to Dubai’s Terminal 2.

DXB world’s busiest airport – London, Mumbai and Riyadh busiest routes

Dubai International retained its place as the world’s busiest hub for international passengers as more than 64.5 million travellers touched down in the emirate in the first nine months of 2019. That's despite lower numbers than last year due to the DXB runway closure in May and the grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft since March.

India is the top destination country by passenger number with 8.8 million customers flying from Dubai to the Subcontinent. The top three cities were London with 2.7 million travellers, Mumbai with 1.7 million passengers and Riyadh with 1.6 million travellers.

Gulf Air and KLM reunite

After nearly seven years apart, Gulf Air and KLM have resumed a codeshare partnership. The Bahrain airline and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines are collaborating on flights to Pakistan and to select destinations in Europe. Gulf Air will codeshare on KLM flights from Amsterdam to Frankfurt and on the Dutch airline’s Amsterdam, Kuwait to Bahrain service. KLM will fly with Gulf Air on its Karachi, Lahore and Sialkot flights.

From Kuwait to Al Ain

From December this year, there will be a new and easy way to hop from Al Ain to Kuwait thanks to a new direct flight from the Garden City. Effective Sunday, December 8, Jazeera Airways will fly the route three times per week.

The Kuwaiti carrier has also just launched a twice weekly service from Kuwait City to Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. It is also gearing up for two new routes. Travellers looking to fly to Nepal can book on the new weekly Katmandu service from Kuwait, effective November 17. In January, this will increase to a daily service. And from Thursday, November 21, weekly flights will operate from Kuwait to Karachi.

Flydubai embraces new technology

Flydubai is investing in new technology to reduce fuel consumption and cut emissions. Courtesy Flydubai
Flydubai is investing in new technology to reduce fuel consumption and cut emissions. Courtesy Flydubai

Dubai’s low-cost carrier is investing in new technology to improve its fuel efficiency. Flydubai is the first airline in the Middle East to invest in winglets. Installed on its Next Generation Boeing 737-800 fleet, the technology reduces the drag created at the end of a wingtip and distributes the lift of the aircraft more evenly across the wing. Flydubai's investment in the Split Scimitar Winglets could reduce its annual fuel bill as well as cutting carbon dioxide emissions by more than 510 tonnes per aircraft per year.

Oman Air adds European connections

Flying from Oman to Europe? Oman Air has partnered with Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline, to give travellers easier accessibility across some of the continent’s key destinations. Travellers can now fly Oman Air from Muscat to Munich or Frankfurt and connect easily to Amsterdam, Dublin, Helsinki, Oslo and Warsaw.

Low-cost flights from Oman to Sri Lanka

Salam Air is adding low-cost flights from Oman to Sri Lanka. Courtesy dronepicr / flickr
Salam Air is adding low-cost flights from Oman to Sri Lanka. Flickr

Low-cost Omani carrier Salam Air is expanding by adding three new routes to its network. Starting today, Thursday, November 14, it is launching three weekly flights from Muscat to Bahrain. Then from Tuesday, November 19, it will fly three weekly services to Dammam in Saudi Arabia. This will increase to six flights per week from Monday, December 2. For travellers looking to rediscover Sri Lanka, Salam Air will begin low-cost Colombo flights on-board its A320neo from Monday, November 25.

New flights from Abu Dhabi to Nepal

Himalya Air introduces new flights to Abu Dhabi from Nepal.
Himalya Air introduces new flights to Abu Dhabi from Nepal.

Planning a trip to Nepal? Himalya Air has added new flights to Katmandu from Abu Dhabi. Starting this week, travellers have a choice of seven flights per week between the UAE and the Nepalese capital with the airline. And if you’re based in Dubai you can still book with the Nepali-Chinese airline thanks to a dedicated bus connection. The airline will also add routes from Katmandu to China’s Nanchang, Changsan and Guiyang before the end of the year.

Saudi Arabia is in demand

Saudi Arabia is seeing a plethora of new flights since it opened its doors to tourists. 
Saudi Arabia is seeing a plethora of new flights since it opened its doors to tourists.

After Saudi Arabia opened its doors to tourists in September, demand has increased and airlines are busy carving new paths in and out of the kingdom.

Etihad has increased flights from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh, announcing a fourth daily flight on its route effective from Sunday, December 8. The service will be operated by an Airbus A320 with 150 Economy and eight Business class seats.

Scat Air, based in Kazakhstan will fly a weekly service from Almaty to Jeddah and Madinah, starting at the end of November.

Air Arabia Egypt has also added five routes to Saudi Arabia from Assiut and Cairo. Serviced by its A320, the new flights are already in operation to the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Gassim, Tabuk, Taif and Yanbu.

Not to be left behind, Kuwait Airways added a new route from Kuwait City to Gassim. The first flight flew on Monday, October 28 and will continue to fly three times per week via an Airbus A320.

Regional shake up from British Airways

Finally, British Airways is shaking up its long-haul services, which could mean significant changes for travellers in the Middle East.

The biggest news so far is the introduction of a new seasonal flight over the summer period from London Heathrow to Muscat. This will be effective from Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

In the UAE, the daily BA London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi flight will by served by a new aircraft next year. From March 2020, a 777-200ER will replace the current 787-9, meaning more capacity on the route.

British Airways will also change the aircraft on its BA109 and BA108 flights from Heathrow to Dubai. The route will be flown by a three-class 777-200ER from March 2020. More updates are expected in the next few weeks.

Updated: November 14, 2019 08:35 PM

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