Belted for a boost in travel

Neerja Bhatia, Vice President, Indian Sub-Continent, Etihad Airways, discusses traffic between India and Abu Dhabi, as the next few months will see UAE host many global events. She also highlights the airline’s NDC adoption & emphasis on loyalty programme.

Hazel Jain

What Etihad routes, that see a lot of traffic from India, have been opened for Indian nationals?

Etihad Airways is gradually resuming services to more destinations across its global network. In the past, we have retained a pragmatic approach to network planning and our strategy remains. We are currently flying to over 60 destinations worldwide, across the Indian-subcontinent, Asia, Australia, Europe, Middle East, Africa and North America. We are currently operating services from eight Indian cities including Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Trivandrum. As borders re-open globally, we are looking at supporting demand by gradually resuming services and expanding our global network, in line with entry and health regulations set by UAE authorities and those at the end destination.

Abu Dhabi has recently reopened for a quarantine-free stay to fully vaccinated travellers from India and we see it emerging once again as a preferred destination and an ideal getaway from India over the next few months. As a result of its optimised schedule of non-stop flights between the UAE and India, appealing to greater numbers of point-to-point business and leisure passengers, Abu Dhabi has for long been the most popular destination for Indian travellers on the Etihad network.

We are prepared for the gradual resumption of international travel from the country, and our top priority remains the safety and wellness of our guests and employees. To that end, we have introduced several measures for guests to travel with greater peace of mind with Etihad Wellness. To simplify the process of authenticating travel documents, we have established Verified to Fly in May 2021, a service where travellers can validate their documents before arriving at the airport. Further, all passengers travelling with Etihad receive complimentary COVID-19 insurance, which is valid for travel until March 31, 2022.

Please share updated travel protocols required for Indian national tourists to enter and stay in Abu Dhabi.

All travellers will require a PCR test within 48 hours of departure, a test on arrival and retesting on certain days. As per the current guidelines, fully vaccinated travellers (with vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation) can arrive from all international destinations without the need to quarantine. As the protocols are updated regularly, we advise all travellers and partners to check the website for updated rules and travel requirements.

Abu Dhabi has been promoting itself as a long weekend getaway destination from India. What kind of traffic do you see for this?

We are prepared for a boost in travel to Abu Dhabi following the UAE government’s announcement to remove the quarantine requirement for all vaccinated travellers arriving from abroad, including India. Abu Dhabi has been a popular destination for Indian travellers on the Etihad network for years. Due to Abu Dhabi’s proximity to the country, we see it continuing to remain a preferred destination and an ideal getaway from India moving forward.

We believe that the news to welcome back travellers from India and the world to Abu Dhabi, has been perfectly timed since the next few months will see the UAE host several global events including EXPO 2020, and Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix among others. We are expecting a surge in demand from tourists and visiting friends and relatives from India. With one of the world’s leading public health programmes supported by an extremely high vaccination rate and tech-driven solutions, Abu Dhabi, the home of Etihad, continues to remain dedicated to ensuring the safety of its residents and visitors.


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