Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Etihad joins with the French railway SNCF

Etihad Airways has ome together with the French National Railway, SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français), to provide passengers with connectivity beyond Paris.

The commercial agreement — Etihad's 32nd codeshare deal, which came into effect yesterday — between the two parties would allow Etihad passengers to book flights beyond Paris Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG), by connecting onward on SNCF's 2,000 km of high-speed TGV rail routes, and vice-versa, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier said yesterday in a statement.

It added that the seamless air-rail connections comprise 20 cities in France, among them Bordeaux, Le Mans, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Rennes and Strasbourg.

"We've just gone double daily to Paris, and combined with this exciting new codeshare with SNCF, it illustrates Etihad's growing commitment to passengers travelling to and from France. Allowing them to book tickets closer to their departure and arrival points is a fantastic proposition to our customers," Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways Chief Commercial Officer, said in a statement.

Tickets for the journey, however, can be booked online on Etihad's website via one of the airline's global contact centres, or through travel agents selling Etihad tickets, the carrier said.

The move comes at a time when the €30.5 billion French railway is aggressively gunning for a slice of the $80 billion in public transport projects earmarked for the Middle East over the next 10 years.

Etihad Airways said on Tuesday it would start operating flights to China's southwestern city of Chengdu from December 15, subject to government approval.

The Abu Dhabi carrier will serve its 69th destination, Chengdu — the capital of Sichuan province, with four non-stop return services per week, the carrier said in a statement, adding that the new service would provide the "first ever flight link between the UAE and Sichuan province".

"With the purchasing power of the Chinese consumer rising in sync with annual GDP growth of 7.5 per cent to 2030, the Chinese travel market has enormous latent potential. The new service will position Etihad strongly to grow its services to daily and beyond," Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan said in a statement.

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