Neerja Bhatia, new Ethiad country manager for India

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Mumbai, Jan 9 (UNI) Etihad Airways has appointed Neerja Bhatia as its new country manager for India.

Neerja joined Etihad Airways in November 2004 as sales manager for Western India, shortly after the Abu Dhabi-based airline launched its first flights to India, a daily service to Mumbai.

She was appointed as manager for Western and Southern India in December 2005 before becoming the airline's acting manager for India in the summer of 2007, helping oversee the launch of new services to Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.

Speaking to reporters, Etihad Airway's executive vice-president sales and services Geert Boven said, ''The demand for air travel between the UAE and India is already huge and is set to grow as Abu Dhabi continues its rapid expansion.'' ''Etihad Airways has made no secret of its desire to increase its Indian operations. As we look to expand our network to include more of the emerging cities of India, Neerja's experience in helping us to establish these potential new routes will be invaluable,'' Greet added.

Etihad Airways has ambitious expansion plans for India and subject to governmental approvals, has set its sights on flights from Abu Dhabi to Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Calicut, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Kolkata.

Etihad currently operates 28 flights a week from the UAE to India, in line with the existing terms of an inter-government bilateral air treaty, with daily flights from Abu Dhabi to the commercial capital Mumbai, the national capital New Delhi and also Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi (Cochin) in Kerala.

Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates based in the UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi. Currently Etihad offers flights to 45 destinations in West Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and Asia.

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