Starting 1 May, 2016, Etihad Airways fliers from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi and onwards to New York would be able to choose to fly in an Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger jet.

Etihad Airways PJSC, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday said one of the three flights it currently operates between the two cities will be served by an A380 from next year. The flight will connect to Etihad’s A380 service from Abu Dhabi to New York.

With this, Etihad becomes the third airline to operate A380s to Mumbai, after Singapore Airlines Ltd and Emirates Airline. Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa German Airlines are already flying A380s to Delhi.

Etihad Airways’ A380 features The Residence, which is a luxury three-room suite, as well as nine first apartments, 70 business studios, and 415 economy seats.

The A380 Mumbai-Abu Dhabi flight and the Abu Dhabi-Mumbai flight will both carry the 9W code of Jet Airways (India) Ltd. Etihad holds a 24% stake in Jet Airways, India’s second largest airline by passengers carried.

In a statement, James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ president and chief executive officer said, “Bringing our flagship product to India and to the state of Maharashtra is further proof of our confidence in the Indian market and our commitment to its economy."

The statement quoted Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, as saying: “This announcement by Etihad Airways is yet another sign of international confidence in the powerhouse economy of Maharashtra. I look forward to the growth in tourism and business that this service can bring to our state."

Etihad Airways is carrying an increasing number of air travellers from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas to cities across India, helping drive economic growth throughout the country, and not just the metropolitan areas, the airline said.

“In 2014, nearly one million guests who travelled on Etihad Airways’ India flights, began their journey from outside the country, representing almost 70% of total passengers who flew to and from India with the Abu Dhabi-based airline," it said.

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