Kochi, May 22 : The UAE-based Etihad Airways will launch flights on August 1 from its Abu Dhabi home base to Kozhikode (Calicut) in Kerala and Chennai.
The airline will operate a daily service to both cities.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways' Chief Executive, said: "Etihad has made no secret of the fact that it wants to build up its Indian services and looks forward to expand its flying programme to the country with the launch of these two exciting new destinations.
"The governments of the UAE and India, and particularly the Department of Transport of Abu Dhabi, deserve great credit for further opening up air links between these two emerging nations and allowing Etihad to grow its services to these developing cities in India," Hogan added.
Flight EY250 will depart Abu Dhabi at 11.35 p.m. and arrive in Kozhikode at 5:00 a.m. the next day. Return flight EY251 will depart Kozhikode at 5.45 a.m. arriving in Abu Dhabi at 8:00 a.m. the same day.
The new Chennai service will operate as flight EY266 on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, departing Abu Dhabi at 8.50 a.m., arriving in Chennai at 2.30 p.m.
On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, the service will operate as flight EY268, departing Abu Dhabi at 1.45 p.m. and arrive in Chennai at 7.25 p.m.
The coastal city of Kozhikode will be Etihad's third destination in Kerala, to add to its highly successful flights to Kochi (Cochin) and state capital, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum).
Chennai is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal and is the capital of Tamil Nadu.
The addition of the two new cities brings the number of Indian destinations served by Etihad to six and follows successful bi-lateral talks between the governments of the UAE and India, aimed at further liberalising flying links between the two countries.
These talks also saw Etihad awarded traffic rights to two further cities in India, Kolkata and Jaipur. The airline is finalising the launch dates for these additional destinations.
Subject to governmental approvals, the airline is pushing to secure further traffic rights from Abu Dhabi to Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Etihad will operate a two class Airbus A320 on both the Kozhikode and Chennai routes configured to carry 140 passengers with 20 in business class and 120 in economy class.
Currently Etihad offers flights to 45 destinations in the Middle East, Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Australia and operates 28 flights a week from the UAE to India. By Juhan Samuel