|Ahn Jin-moon, Etihad Airways country manager Korea, talks about the launch of the A380 operation on the Incheon-Abu Dhabi route at the Shilla Hotel, July 2. Courtesy of Etihad Airways|
By Kim Hyun-bin
United Arab Emirates' (UAE) flagship carrier Etihad Airways sees much opportunity for growth in Korea and expects travel in the country to further surge in the coming years, according to the carrier's country manager in Korea.
"Korea and the UAE have strategically enhanced their relations, which started off with oil and nuclear power exchange, but more exchanges are yet to come in the semi-conductor, IT and medical sectors as well as the increase in Korean travelers, which brings more opportunity for Etihad Airways' Korea branch," Ahn Jin-moon, Etihad's country manager in Korea, said during an interview with The Korea Times at the carrier's Seoul office, July 3.
To meet the rise in demand, the airline has been operating the 486-seat Airbus A380 on daily flights from Incheon to Abu Dhabi since July 3, less than a year after they introduced the Boeing 787-9 on Aug. 1, 2018.
|Etihad Airways' A380|
The 45 percent more capacity includes a 122 percent increase in premium seats than the previous model. Even with the increased capacity, the airline reached over 80 percent load factor on its first A380 flight from Incheon on July 3, according to Etihad.
Ahn says its flight schedule best suits business travelers as it arrives in Abu Dhabi at around 6 a.m. and departs it at 10 p.m.
"Airlines maximize flight operations for each aircraft to boost profit, but we leave our aircraft parked at Incheon for 13 hours even with the cost burden. It is a price we pay to provide the best flight schedule for business travelers," he said.
In part of the airline's localization efforts, Etihad has a Korean flight attendant in all four cabins while serving two Korean meals including bibimbap and neobiani (marinated grilled beef slices) and offering Korean TV and movie services.
Etihad Airways offers unique and luxurious options for travelers by providing four different cabin classes ― The Residence, First Apartment, Business Studio, and Economy Class.
The Residence is Etihad's most luxurious three-room cabin with a private butler and a five-star hotel chef ready to satisfy customer's tastes. The Residence has a hefty price tag of 28 million won ($23,700) for two passengers.
The airline currently has a major promotion under way, where any customers booking Etihad by Dec. 1 could receive two free nights at a five-star hotel including Intercontinental Abu Dhabi, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi, Radisson Blu, and Crowne Plaza, within this year.
"This is the first time in the airlines' 15-year history that we initiated free stop promotions. Any customers taking Etihad Airways can receive the two free nights at a five-star hotel, after registering their tickets from the airline's website," he said.