Etihad Airways, the United Arab Emirates’ national carrier, is looking to connect the Middle East to the Scottish capital with the launch of daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Edinburgh, starting this week.
Etihad Airways’ first Scottish destination, the Edinburgh service is its third in the UK, alongside a triple-daily operation to London Heathrow and double-daily flights to Manchester.
The new service is expected to provide connections through the Abu Dhabi hub to some of the most popular holiday destinations and trade centres for the Scottish economy in the Middle East, Indian sub-continent, Asia and Australia. Operated using a two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft, the service offers a total of 22 seats in Business Class and 240 seats in Economy Class.
Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer for Etihad Airways, said: ‘Scotland is the natural next step on our growth trajectory in the UK, with strong tourism and business traffic in both directions. We have been impressed by the welcome we have received from Edinburgh Airport and from the Scottish tourism industry. Many local stakeholders have played a part in attracting us to the city and welcoming us here, and we’re confident this service will be a great success.
‘As the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is also an important business and financial hub across many industry sectors. With more than 110 direct destinations – and hundreds more through our partners – we can connect Scottish travellers wherever they need to go, for business or for leisure. Additionally, for Scottish trade and tourism, we will be able to bring in leisure and business visitors from many of these destinations.’
For leisure customers and families, Edinburgh – the UK’s largest tourist centre outside London – attracts over a million overseas tourists each year. Notably, Edinburgh is the second most popular British city for Australians, eight per cent of whom have Scottish ancestry. Etihad Airways currently connects directly to Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne and onward to around 40 further destinations across Australia, through the partnership with Virgin Australia.
For businesses and trade, the UAE is already a major trade partner for Scotland in the Middle East. According to data released at the end of 2014 by the UK’s Office for National Statistics, bilateral trade between the UAE and UK reached more than £12.36 billion in 2013.