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Etihad eyes new code sharing deal with PAL

MANILA, Philippines - United Arab Emirates flag carrier Etihad Airways is set to expand its operations in the Philippines as it plans to enter into a new code-share agreement with Philippine Airlines (PAL).

Etihad Airways president and CEO, James Hogan who is in Manila to celebrate the airline’s 10th anniversary and its seventh year in the Philippines,  told reporters that they plan to increase their Manila-Abu Dhabi flights to three from the present twice daily.

An airline company normally enters into a code-share business arrangement as part of its major global alliance initiatives and to increase sales. A seat can be purchased on one airline but is actually operated by a cooperating airline under a different flight number or code.

The two airlines first entered into a codeshare agreement in 2007.

In October 2011, the number of Etihad and PAL’s code-share flights increased to 14 flights a week, or twice daily, from the previous 12 weekly.

Etihad general manager for the Philippines John Rees Evans, expressed optimism they would be able to increase traffic focusing mostly on migrant workers, religious and high-end and/or leisure travelers.

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“The market here is developing and the economy is so good. We see more tourists going out. Religious tourism here is very important so we will be featuring that segment,” Evans said.

Evans said they are also banking on the impressive tourism growth in the country.

“We want to help support not only the Philippines’ outbound tourism but also inbound tourist arrivals. We are developing a number of holiday programs to promote the Philippines as a prime tourist destination,” Hogan said.

One-stop connections at Etihad’s modern and efficient Abu Dhabi hub are available to many popular business and leisure destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

“From a modest start of four weekly A330-200 flights in 2006, Etihad Airways now operates twice daily services to Manila with a larger Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. That’s more than three-fold growth in just seven years,” Hogan said.

“Over the same period, we have carried more than 2.3 million passengers with an average of seat factor of approximately 86 percent, making the Philippine route one of the strongest performers in our network,” he said.

Hogan identified the strengthening Philippine economy – with GDP growth at 7.6 percent in the first half of this year – as one of the key drivers of this growth.

“Total trade between the UAE and the Philippines reached $2.16 billion last year, creating significant opportunities for belly-hold cargo transportation,” he added.

Etihad Airways began operations in 2003 and in 2012, it carried 10.3 million passengers.

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