Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, will connect more than one hundred global destinations with Scotland, with the launch this week of daily flights from Abu Dhabi and beyond to Edinburgh.

At Edinburgh Airport (edinburghairport.com)

At Edinburgh Airport (edinburghairport.com)

Edinburgh is Etihad Airways’ first Scottish destination, and its third departure point from the UK, alongside triple-daily flights from London Heathrow and double-daily flights from Manchester.

The new service is operated with a two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft, offering a total of 22 seats in Business Class and 240 seats in Economy Class. It will be a daily service with connections onward to the world’s most attractive holiday destinations and trade centres for the Scottish economy in the Middle East, Indian sub-continent, Asia and Australia.

Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer for Etihad Airways, said:

– Scotland is the natural next step on our growth trajectory in the UK, with strong tourism and business traffic in both directions. We have been impressed by the welcome we have received from Edinburgh Airport and from the Scottish tourism industry. Many local stakeholders have played a part in attracting us to the city and welcoming us here, and we’re confident this service will be a great success.

– It’s not all about Edinburgh either, as we know there’s a strong demand across the central belt and further afield, not least from Aberdeen-based business travellers, for long-haul services. Abu Dhabi is a growing tourism and trade destination in itself with leisure attractions including world-class beach and desert resorts, Ferrari World, our Championship golf courses and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, opening in a few months’ time, coupled with year-round sunshine, all of which make our home an exciting option for Scottish holiday-makers.

– As the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is also an important business and financial hub, across many industry sectors. With more than 110 direct destinations – and hundreds more through our partners – we can connect Scottish travellers wherever they need to go, for business or for leisure. Additionally, for Scottish trade and tourism, we will be able to bring in leisure and business visitors from many of these destinations.”

From a business and trade perspective, the UAE is already a primary trade partner for Scotland in the Middle East region. According to figures released at the end of 2014 by the UK’s Office for National Statistics, bilateral trade between the UAE and UK reached more than £12.36 billion in 2013.

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, said:

– The launch of Etihad Airways at Edinburgh reinforces the continued growth of the Scottish aviation industry and cements our country as an increasingly attractive investment for the world’s biggest airlines.

– As an airport we’ve grown rapidly over the last few years and were the first Scottish airport to welcome over 10 million passengers in 2014. We have and are continuing to invest significantly in the passenger journey and our facilities to ensure we remain the airport of choice for Scottish passengers.

– This new daily service to Abu Dhabi will continue to open Scotland up to the world, making it easier for Scots to travel to the Middle East, Asia and Australia and provide fantastic links for international tourism and trade opportunities. We’re delighted to welcome our new colleagues at Etihad Airways to Edinburgh and look forward to working with them to provide the best service for our passengers.”

For leisure customers, Edinburgh is a significant tourist draw. The city is the UK’s largest tourist market outside London, with more than a million arrivals from overseas each year.

Significantly, Edinburgh is the second most popular British city for Australians, 8 per cent of whom have Scottish ancestry. Etihad Airways currently connects directly to Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne and onward to around 40 further destinations across Australia through the partnership with Virgin Australia.

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said:

– The launch of this daily service from Abu Dhabi to Edinburgh is outstanding news for Scottish tourism. It unlocks Etihad Airways’ worldwide network and allows us to attract a broad range of leisure, high-net worth and business travellers from around the world.

– VisitScotland’s objective is to see our country connected into every global airline network and alliance and this exciting new direct route makes it even easier for visitors from the Middle East, alongside our priority markets of China, India and Australasia, to come to Scotland.

– We hope this route will build on the legacy of Homecoming Scotland 2014 and encourage more and more people to come here and explore their ancestry, take in our incredible scenery, play in the Home of Golf or enjoy any of the other wonderful things to see and do in Scotland.”

Scottish Enterprise figures show that the Middle East is the second largest international market for Scottish oil and gas exports, valued at £2 billion, so areas across Scotland such as Aberdeen will be a target for the new service.

The aircraft will offer a 168-tonne cargo capacity per week in both directions, with oil and gas equipment expected to be transported to destinations served by the Etihad’s cargo division in Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia and regions in Africa.

The cargo service also supports Edinburgh’s position as the fourth largest finance centre in Europe and a global hub for scientific research, food and drink, oil and gas, and chemical industries. Food exports from Scotland were worth a record £1.1 billion in 2014, with a surge in fish and seafood sales for markets in Asia such as China and Hong Kong served by Etihad Airways.

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