An Etihad airplane is parked at Minsk International Airport. File / WAM
Havana is the latest addition to an expanding list of special charter flights to destinations not normally served on the airline’s global route network.
Following the suspension of all normal passenger flights to and from the UAE on March 24, Etihad has operated special humanitarian services to 32 cities around the world, all of which are not currently served by the airline’s passenger or cargo network of flights.
An Etihad Airways flight attendant poses for a photograph.
These include Bogota, Bucharest, Grozny, Kiev, Larnaca, Podgorica, Tirana, Yerevan, Zagreb, Auckland, Bhubaneswar, Bishkek, Dushanbe, Dhaka, Erbil, Kabul, Lucknow, Makhachkala, Addis Ababa, Antananarivo, Bamako, Banjul, Conakry, Freetown, Harare, Kinshasa, Moroni, N’Djamena, Niamey, and Nouakchott. The airline recently operated a special humanitarian flight carrying essential medical and humanitarian cargo bound for the Palestinian Territories.
Additionally, Etihad has operated special passenger and freight flights, including charters, to a further 62 online destinations, and continues to expand this number as it prepares to resume a more normalised network of scheduled flights to, from, and via its Abu Dhabi hub.
The Etihad flight at Havana International Airport. WAM
Ahmed Al Qubaisi, Etihad Aviation Group Senior Vice President Government, International and Communications, said: "All of us at Etihad feel a collective sense of pride, and humility, in the knowledge that we have been able to fully mobilise our resources at a time of great difficulty and suffering, to provide essential aerial lifelines to those in need. We have been able to move with agility and fly to territories never served by us prior to the current global lockdown, so we can aid in the repatriation of people.
"Our services are a natural extension of the goodwill initiatives of the Government of the United Arab Emirates, and other governments and NGOs. As an international airline made up of a close family of colleagues from over 150 nations, we are reflective of the wider global community, and do not underestimate the importance of operating such flights in this current situation. We will continue to work with our partners around the world to play our part as things gradually return to normal."
The airline, which had aimed to partially resume passenger flights from May 1, said in a statement all scheduled services would remain grounded until May 16 at the earliest. Earlier in the day, it had said the suspension would last until May 15.
Briefing the media on the progress of Phase IV of the mission, known as "Vande Bharat," Srivastava said the additional flights will from GCC countries, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK, Europe, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine.
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Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive, said: “I would like to thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed for their latest directives to reopen air travel which show their vision for Dubai as a world leader in business and tourism.”
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