ABU DHABI: Pursuing a new revenue generation programme amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit hard air travel demand globally, Etihad Airways is expanding its business operations with the start of charter flight services.
According to a statement issued to TLTP on Monday, Etihad Airways said it will offer leisure and business travellers options for passenger, cargo-only and combined freight and passenger flights.
“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,” Alex Featherstone, vice president of network planning and alliances at Etihad Airways, said.
Global private jet travel has benefited during the Covid-19 pandemic, offering well-heeled passengers the option to continue travelling while reducing the risk of contact in crowded airports and offering alternatives to commercial flights.
Etihad Airways did not provide further details on its charter flight services.
The state-owned carrier has flown more than 500 charters including passenger, government and humanitarian flights this year. It carried more than 3.8 million tonnes of cargo for the government of Abu Dhabi as part of the national aid programme using charter services.
Some 147,353 business aviation flights have been operated globally in the first half of December, dropping to 20 per cent below the same period last year as demand stutters in the face of renewed lockdowns in North America and Europe, according to a December 15 report by Wing X, a data research and consulting company.
“Business aviation is navigating turbulent waters with the renewed lockdowns, and in what is already a fallow period of the year for leisure travel, the hollowed out corporate travel market is offering little support,” Richard Koe, managing director of Wing X, said.
While the overall market for chartered flights declined in December, leisure getaways are still in demand, the report showed.
“Trending activity hasn’t drastically dropped from the post-spring highs in October, and the leisure market, especially to getaway sun and ski destinations, may be picking up as we approach Christmas,” Mr Koe added.