Etihad links Bangkok, Washington

While most flights to Washington from Bangkok head east via Japan, Etihad Airways says flying west through the UAE is a sound option.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier launched a new one-stop flight from the Thai capital to the US seat of government this past Sunday.

The new service combines Etihad's existing service between Bangkok and Abu Dhabi with its new flight from Abu Dhabi to Washington _ the first direct air link between the two capitals.

The launch of the Washington service came with "special tactical" fares that undercut those offered by major American carriers that fly eastward with a transit in Narita.

An all-in round-trip fare from Bangkok to Washington on Etihad goes for as little as 50,380 baht for economy class and 152,345 baht for business class.

Those compare with fares of about 57,000 baht for economy and 159,000 baht for business class on major US airlines.

Etihad plans to keep those fares for as long as six months.

Etihad operates three flights a day between Bangkok and Abu Dhabi as well as a daily flight between Phuket and Abu Dhabi through a codeshare with equity partner Air Berlin.

From Abu Dhabi, Etihad operates a daily service to Washington.

Etihad executives are upbeat about the potential demand from from Thai visitors and government officials for the Washington service.

Bangkok-Abu Dhabi is one of the UAE flag carrier's busiest point-to-point routes, with more than 12,800 passengers travelling on the sector last year, according to Etihad executives.

Etihad operates the A340-500, a four-engine long-range jetliner, on the Abu Dhabi-Washington flight, which takes 12 to 13.5 hours non-stop.

On the Bangkok sector, Etihad uses twin-engine wide-body B777-300ERs, while Air Berlin relies on the A330-200 for the Phuket-bound flight.

Washington has become the fourth North American city served by Etihad, after Chicago, New York and Toronto.

About the author

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Writer: Boonsong Kositchotethana
Position: Deputy Editor Business