Air Berlin and Niki to open new Abu Dhabi routes

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Etihad Airways partner Air Berlin and its Austrian subsidiary Niki are planning flights from Stuttgart and Vienna to Abu Dhabi.

Both routes are to be operated direct and daily with Airbus A320s from the winter 2014/2015 schedule onward, pending regulatory approval.

Air Berlin plans to start its service from Stuttgart on 1 December, it says. The region around the southwest German city is a major economic hub as it is the home of a number of large companies, such as carmakers Mercedes and Porsche as well as engineering group Bosch.

Qatar Airways operated flights from Stuttgart to Doha in the past, but abandoned the route in October 2012 due to lack of sufficient frequency scope under the existing bilateral agreement between Germany and Qatar, Stuttgart airport says.

Air Berlin and Etihad – which has an approximately 29% shareholding in the loss-making German airline – are operating twice-daily flights to Abu Dhabi from Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich.

Abu Dhabi will be Air Berlin’s first long-haul destination from Stuttgart. “We see great potential for our planned services to Abu Dhabi,” says chief executive Wolfgang Prock-Schauer.

Meanwhile, Niki is to start daily return flights from its Vienna base to the emirate on 24 November.

“For the first time in our 10-year history, we are planning a long-haul service from Vienna,” says managing director Christian Lesjak.

Aircraft configured with 132 economy- and 12 business-class seats will be used on both routes.