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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Etihad passengers to receive free stopover in Abu Dhabi 

The initiative is part of plans to promote new attractions and increase visitors to the city

Flight EY 474 was diverted to Mumbai after a woman went into labour. AP
Flight EY 474 was diverted to Mumbai after a woman went into labour. AP

Etihad is offering passengers a free stopover in Abu Dhabi as part of plans to promote new attractions and boost the number of visitors to the city.

The airline is offering one night’s free accommodation in Abu Dhabi to all passengers flying economy class from a range of destinations in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, from now until September 15. Although the cost of a stopover visa is not included.

Etihad has stepped up the number of offers it has extended in recent months to coincide with the opening of new attractions in the city, including Louvre Abu Dhabi. The city’s latest attraction, the theme park, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi will open in July.

“Etihad Airways is delighted to invite guests to experience Abu Dhabi, a city which has so much to offer every type of traveller, especially during a short stopover,” said Mohammed Al Bulooki, Etihad Airways’ executive vice president commercial.

“Five million guest arrivals were recorded in Abu Dhabi in 2017, proving that the emirate continues to attract greater numbers of leisure visitors each year.”

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Mais Alnuaimi, the founder and chief executive of Mundana, a boutique travel agency based in Dubai, said the offer makes sense given the increasing number of tourist attractions that are opening in Abu Dhabi.

“Since Etihad is government owned it would make sense to want to promote Abu Dhabi. It’s a good promotion and it gets the word out there about the city,” she said.

The destinations included in the deal are: South Africa, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Kuwait, Tanzania, Kenya, Bahrain, Oman, Sudan, Lebanon.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst with StrategicAero Research agreed that the deal makes sense as part of a strategy to garner favour with transit passengers in some of its strongest markets – but he was surprised to see that India was not included as part of it.

“India is a key gateway and with their partnership through Jet Airways, I was surprised not to see India included,” he said.

“That aside, it’s evident that Etihad is keen not just to harness the strength of Abu Dhabi and showcase it to its guests, but it’s also trying to carve out a niche so that if the uptake of this offer is successful, it could well be extended for other destinations across Asia and even Australia or the US,” added Mr Ahmad.

The aim is clearly to build customer loyalty and drive revenue growth, he said.

“If Etihad can get good numbers out of this, they’d be crazy not to extend and expand it – it’s a winner for passengers who may in future decide to break up their travel plans with a stop in Abu Dhabi,” said Mr Ahmad.