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Etihad opening new doors

Etihad Airways has opened a sales office in Sharjah to support mounting demand from customers in the Northern Emirates region.

Etihad Airways has opened a sales office in Sharjah to support mounting demand from customers in the Northern Emirates region.

The new office in Al Taawun Street, Sharjah, will be catered to by Etihad’s luxury coach service, which will transport Coral class passengers to Abu Dhabi International Airport in two hours and 15 minutes.

According to Husain Nalkhanday, area manager, Dubai and Northern Emirates, 25% of UAE customers from outside Abu Dhabi originate from Sharjah and the Northern Emirates, and the remaining 75%, from Dubai.

“Sharjah and the Northern Emirates has a large population and has growth potential,” he told ATN. “Many of the residents of the Northern Emirates work in Abu Dhabi, so they consider Etihad to be their national carrier.”

He said Sharjah’s demographic comprised ex-pats from Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, who frequently visited their families in their home countries, while many residents of the Northern Emirates originated from India, Pakistan, and the Philippines and also took frequent trips home.

Part of the new office’s strategy will be to target the MICE sector, which is “usually bulk business” and “not price driven”, according to Nalkhanday.

“So you can get higher yields and there is potential [to sell] premium cabins,” he said.

“It’s a good way to fill up seats, and the MICE business is growing leaps and bounds.”

Nalkhanday said Etihad would consider opening a Sharjah check-in desk, allowing passengers to check in their luggage up to 24 hours before their flight.

Until then, Etihad’s Sharjah and Northern Emirates passengers can use the Dubai city check-in to deposit luggage before making the trip to Abu Dhabi.

On the subject of further growth, Nalkhanday said the decision to open additional UAE offices would depend on demand, but that “outstanding support” in Ras al Khaimah would make this emirate the first choice.

Etihad currently has offices in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Sharjah.

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