Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Alitalia, Italy’s flag carrier, today announced that direct Rome-Abu Dhabi flights will commence December 1, 2012.
Subject to government approvals, Alitalia will operate the four weekly flights using an Airbus A330 aircraft in conjunction with codeshare partner Etihad Airways. The flights, with seating capacity for 230 passengers, will operate on a split schedule, ensuring maximum connectivity over Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub.
Etihad Airways will place its EY code on the new Rome (Fiumicino) flights, providing travellers with direct access to the Italian capital from Abu Dhabi, building on the daily service it already operates to the northern Italian city of Milan.
In addition, Etihad Airways will codeshare on Alitalia operated flights beyond Rome to the cities of Venice and Zurich. The UAE flag carrier already codeshares on Alitalia-operated flights from Rome to Milan, Frankfurt, Munich, Geneva and Athens.
Alitalia will continue to place its AZ code on Etihad Airways flights from Abu Dhabi to Bahrain, Muscat, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Melbourne and Sydney.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The ties between the UAE and Italy have never been stronger, and one of our key objectives all along was to provide our passengers with a direct service to Rome.
“We signed our initial codeshare with Alitalia back in December 2009, and it has been a great success. Extending the deal now to cover direct Rome-Abu flights is a natural next step.
“Ultimately, this is fantastic news for both airlines' passengers, giving them direct access to Rome and Abu Dhabi respectively, and beyond right across both networks, and at the same time allowing them to earn and burn frequent flyer miles on both airlines' combined networks."
Andrea Ragnetti, CEO of Alitalia, said: “I am proud to announce this important new route that Alitalia will operate from the first of December. It's the next step in a successful collaboration which we started in 2009 with Etihad Airways.
“The new Rome-Abu Dhabi route will allow both companies to offer their passengers a new direct service and in particular for Alitalia passengers from Rome, it will further open the doors to exceptional business and tourist destinations around the world on Etihad Airways’ network.
“Moreover, today’s announcement is the best evidence of how Alitalia is undergoing a process of positive growth and development, even at a time when air transportation is facing many challenges.”
Etihad Airways is committed to Italy and this year celebrates five years of direct Abu Dhabi-Milan flights.