Late last week, Etihad Airways operated its inaugural flight from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. After over a decade of flying to Domodedovo, Abu Dhabi hopes its flag carrier’s daily services from Sheremetyevo will serve to strengthen financial ties with Russia.
Just in time for what promises to be the most riveting season final race in recent memory, it is not just the Formula 1 ambulating circus that will be a new arrival in Abu Dhabi. The emirate is looking to increase the number of incoming travelers from Russia by shifting Etihad’s Moscow service to Sheremetyevo Airport and its newest terminal.
Move north to newer facilities
Etihad Airways has moved its operations from Moscow Domodedovo (DME) to the south of the megapolis, to Sheremetyevo (SVO) and the airport’s newest passenger facilities at Terminal C. The inaugural flight, EY63, took off on December 2nd at 09:35 from Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).
An Etihad Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner landed at SVO at 14:25 local time and was greeted by a special ceremony. The welcoming committee included H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Jaber, UAE Ambassador to Russia, and Tony Douglas, CEO for the Etihad Aviation Group.
“After 13 years connecting our two capital cities, we’re delighted to introduce the 787 on this route and move to Russia’s newest and most sophisticated airport, providing better connectivity for guests between Abu Dhabi and Moscow in support of our objective to grow trade and tourism opportunities between our two countries,” said Tony Douglas upon the arrival of the aircraft.
Return flight EY64 departs from SVO at 15:50 and arrives in Abu Dhabi at 22:15, local times. Etihad will operate the route with either a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner or an Airbus A321. The carrier currently has 30 of the former and ten of the latter in its fleet. However, an additional 11 787-9s are on their way, as are 26 A321neo aircraft.
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Air travel collaboration and diplomacy
The airline says that an increased daily flight schedule would provide Russian holidaymakers and business travelers with more opportunities to visit the UAE. In turn, it states, this will be the ‘start of a new phase’ in relations and economic ties between the two countries.
Furthermore, complementing the move to SVO, Etihad is expanding its collaboration with the Russian flag carrier Aeroflot. The two parties say that they will be launching codeshare agreements across their respective networks, as well as exploring other areas of cooperation.
UAE citizens can receive an entry visa on arrival in Russia, whereas Russians can obtain a visa valid for 30 days on arrival in the UAE.
After three years of construction, the new Terminal C at Sheremetyevo officially opened in January 2020. It will be home to international carriers and has a capacity of 20 million passengers per year. It forms a single, joint space together with Terminal B.
Have you had a chance to fly out of SVO’s latest terminal yet? Leave a comment below and share your experience.