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Etihad announces cautious return to flying

Etihad Airways has unveiled plans to return to a limited schedule of flying from May 1st - subject to United Arab Emirates government-imposed travel restrictions being lifted.

In a sign the corner might have been turned, the Abu Dhabi flag-carrier said it would operate a reduced network until June 30th, with a view to offering a fuller schedule as and when the global situation improves.

Etihad is also continuing to operate a growing schedule of special passenger flights allowing foreign nationals in the UAE the opportunity to travel out of the country, and to carry essential belly-hold cargo such as perishables, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies.

To date, the airline has also repatriated almost 600 UAE nationals on return services.

Tony Douglas, group chief executive, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “The term ‘unprecedented’ is currently the most used in our industry, and the most appropriate.

“The monumental challenges being faced by all airlines, and our customers, have been beyond measure.

“However, we remain cautiously optimistic and will push ahead with our plans to resume normal flying, while striving to better serve and support our customers and our employees.”

He added: “While the intention is to assume a ‘business as usual’ approach to the restart of our operations, the aviation landscape has changed, and how it will look month by month is difficult to predict.

“This has necessitated a fundamental shift in focus for us.

“However, the cumulative gains achieved by our ongoing transformation, and the unwavering support of our shareholder, has left us in a relatively strong position to withstand any instability.

“We will pivot on this and act with agility to seize opportunities we may not have previously considered.”

Currently, Etihad - considered the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards - is using 22 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 777-300ER passenger aircraft, with five more ready for service, to complement its operational fleet of five 777-200F freighters.

These aircraft are providing scheduled and special passenger and belly-hold cargo services to several destinations worldwide.

Douglas added: “We are implementing a series of network-wide route and fleet efficiencies, while conducting an extensive brand study and trialling new service concepts in our guest experience proposition.

“We are also using this time to drive further internal improvements in the efficient use of automation and technology across all areas of the business, while maintaining productivity, creativity and quality.”

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