Etihad Airways yesterday launched the first ever scheduled flights linking Abu Dhabi and Baku – as part of a three times a week Airbus A320 route to the Azerbaijan city.
Onboard the inaugural flight was a special delegation including diplomats, dignitaries, media representatives, and senior members of Etihad Airways’ management team.
On arrival in Baku, the aircraft was greeted with a traditional water cannon salute, followed by the customary display of the Emirati and Azerbaijani national flags from the cockpit windows.
Etihad Airways chief executive officer, Peter Baumgartner said: “There is strong demand from both markets for a direct, full-service operation on the route, and we have responded to this increasing customer requirement. The new flights will further boost traffic from the UAE and strengthen the bilateral relations between the two nations.
“The visa waiver programme introduced for UAE nationals by Azerbaijan in 2015 has greatly stimulated interest in the country, resulting in a surge of visitors since its implementation.”
Etihad Airways and Azerbaijan Airlines recently announced a codeshare partnership which now sees Azerbaijan Airlines place its ‘J2’ code on Etihad Airways services between Baku and Abu Dhabi.
Under this partnership, Azerbaijan Airlines guests will be able to book codeshare flights to and from Abu Dhabi and connect onto Etihad Airways’ global network.
Azerbaijan Airlines president, Jahangir Asgarov said: “Azerbaijan Airlines and Etihad Airways are long-standing partners in civil aviation. The launch of joint flights between our two airlines will allow Azerbaijani citizens to further expand their global reach, attracting increased numbers of tourists and creating more opportunities for business travellers.”
Meanwhile, Etihad Airways has appointed Saeed Mohammad Ahmed as its country manager for Azerbaijan. He will be responsible for the strategic and commercial success of the new route, and for developing business relationships with key Azerbaijani corporations and the travel industry.