Inaugural flight EY430 departed Abu Dhabi International Airport at o8.40 on Sunday and touched down at 18.00 at Phuket International Airport, where it was welcomed by a water cannon salute, a gathering of dignitaries and airline representatives, and a performance by traditional Thai dancers.
Situated off the west coast of Thailand in the tranquil Andaman Sea, Phuket is one of Thailand’s southern-most provinces and the largest island in the Kingdom. Its pristine natural beaches, plethora of resorts, and year-round sunshine make it a top-ranking destination for holidaymakers the world over.
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive of Etihad Airways, said: “The new Phuket route is a natural expansion of our Thai network and a strong addition to our portfolio of leisure destinations, such as the Seychelles, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
“With attractive departure and arrival times and seamless connections from more than 25 cities across the GCC and Europe, the new services will contribute greatly to the growth of tourism to the region.
“Holidaymakers from the UAE and GCC, as well as from key European markets including Dublin, London, Milan, Munich and Paris, will now have enhanced travel options to the island destination and enjoy Etihad Airways’ award-winning service along the way.”
Connections to Phuket from Berlin, Düsseldorf, Rome and Belgrade are also available with Etihad Airways’ European partners airberlin, Alitalia and Air Serbia.
Phuket is one of the 10 new routes launched or to be launched by Etihad Airways in 2014. Others included Medina on 1st February; Jaipur on 1st April; Los Angeles and Zurich on 1st June; Yerevan on 2nd July; and Rome and Perth on 15th July. These will be followed by San Francisco on 18th November and Dallas on 3rd December. Phuket is also the airline’s seventh destination in South East Asia alongside Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Singapore.
A two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft operates the Abu Dhabi-Phuket sector with 22 seats in Business Class and 240 seats in Economy Class.