UAE's Etihad Airways has aggressive growth plans in India, and is not concerned about Indian airlines starting more services to west Asian destinations, a company official said. Speaking to PTI, Etihad Airways' head for Indian subcontinent Salil Nath said such competition would drive innovation as the sector grows, lapping up the pent-up demand created by the pandemic.
"We are operating services to 62 destinations globally, and this year, we will be flying to six more destinations with Kolkata being the first. We are rapidly expanding. Besides, we also started increasing frequencies on the key routes from India this month," he said. "On March 26, besides resuming services on the Kolkata-Abu Dhabi route, we started operating two daily flights from Ahmedabad and Chennai, and six more flights from Kochi per week. From April 24, Etihad will operate three services daily from Delhi and Mumbai," he added.
Nath said the post-pandemic recovery has been rapid for the sector as there was a lot of pent-up demand for travel. "The pent-up demand is still continuing, and there are no signs of it abetting at all. We really hope to ride this wave through the rest of 2023, and into 2024 as well," he said.
Asked about the increasing competition in the sector as Indian carriers plan more international flights, the official said, "We always welcome competition as it pushes us to innovate. We have a very aggressive growth plan, which is far ahead... may be one flight may start from here and there (by Indian carriers)... We are focussed on our own strategy, it's working really well for us."
Justifying the steep airfares, Nath said tariffs are a function of supply and demand, which is a cyclical phenomenon, and tariffs would come down as the demand shrinks.