Etihad Airways launches charter services as coronavirus continues to bite

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National airline of the UAE expands its business with the launch of charter and special flight services

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has expanded its business with the launch of charter and special flight services as it continues to struggle with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fully customisable, business and leisure guests can choose from a variety of flight options including a dedicated passenger service, cargo only flight or a combined passenger and cargo package, the airline said on Monday.

Alex Featherstone, vice president Network Planning & Alliances, Etihad Airways, said: “While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact the commercial aviation industry, charter flights provide a convenient alternative to travel, providing customers with the flexibility to choose the departure time, destination and routing.”

This year, Etihad has flown over 500 charters including passenger, government and humanitarian flights. Over 3.8 million tonnes of cargo has been transported for the government of Abu Dhabi as part of the national aid programme using charter services.

Etihad also charters flights for sports teams including a last-minute flight for Manchester City Football Club in 2019 to help them continue the Asia pre-season tour after they faced a delay on their initial journey.

Featherstone said Etihad Wellness, the airline’s health and safety programme, ensures the highest standards of hygiene are maintained on charters flights at every stage of the customer journey.

This includes specially trained Wellness Ambassadors, a first in the industry, who have been introduced by the airline to provide essential travel health information and care on the ground and on every flight.

As part of the Etihad Wellness programme, global Covid-19 insurance cover is included for all passengers travelling with Etihad.

Etihad announced last month plans to transform into a mid-sized, full-service carrier as well as a new organisational structure, with a view to concentrate on its fleet of wide-body aircraft.

The state-owned airline, which posted a first-half loss of $758 million, cut thousands of jobs after the pandemic prompted governments to shut their borders and airlines to ground entire fleets, relying only on repatriation flights and cargo operations.

In September Etihad said it was extending a period of reduced pay for its staff until the end of this year although at a lower rate as it looked to offset the impact of the crisis.

It said salaries would be cut 10 percent and Etihad had reintroduced staff allowances, according to a statement. That compared with an earlier reduction of 25 percent to 50 percent.

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