Etihad to suspend Dar flights, now what?

Tuesday June 19 2018


By Alawi Masare @AMasare

Dar es Salaam. Etihad Airways – the national airline of the United Arab Emirates – has confirmed to suspend flights between Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Abu Dhabi as the airline is undergoing a strategic review that involves scrapping unprofitable routes.

“As part of an ongoing review of network performance, Etihad Airways will suspend flights from Abu Dhabi to Dar es Salaam, effective October 1, 2018,” the airline replied to a question by The Citizen through its twitter account on Tuesday June 19, 2018.

After October 1, travellers from the Tanzania’s commercial capital will re-routed through Kenya Airways to Nairobi and then connected through Etihad to Abu Dhabi.

The Airline launched its first flights to Tanzania in December 2015. Dar es Salaam was the airline’s third gateway in East Africa, along with Nairobi in Kenya, and Entebbe in Uganda.

The network review is part of the company-wide initiatives taken to revive business following second consecutive year of loss making.

Last week, the state-owned airline announced to have narrowed its annual loss by 22 per cent to $1.52 billion for 2017, compared with a loss of $1.95 billion recorded in 2016.

The sales increased by 1.9 per cent to $6.1 billion and costs dropped by 7.3 per cent, the company said in a statement.

The airline’s losses resulted from a “significant” increase in its fuel bill, an investment into its restructuring program and loss in business from its former equity partners Alitalia and Air Berlin, it said.

Etihad and two other Gulf super-connectors – Dubai’s Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways – have grown at a double-digit rate almost every year in the past decade, fueling accusations of anti-competitive behaviour by their American rivals.

The other two Gulf carriers both slowed their expansion rate in 2017, albeit to a lesser degree than Etihad.

The carrier halted service to Dallas-Fort Worth, Entebbe, Jaipur, San Francisco, Tehran, and Venice last year amid its network review.

It also started a service to Baku in March and will begin flights to Barcelona in November this year.