Scotland will likely be served by all three major Gulf airlines next year.
The news was revealed by Etihad CEO James Hogan at a Scottish travel industry dinner in Glasgow last night.
He said: “We will come into our first city next year. We are certainly keen to come into Scotland and build our presence over the next five years, when we will fly to two Scottish cities.”
Dubai-based Emirates has been serving Glasgow for ten years and is toying with the idea of regularly using one its A380s on the route. It will fly an A380 test flight to the city on April 10 (see news, February 12).
And, Doha’s Qatar Airways is set to launch flights to Edinburgh this coming May.
At the present time it is not known which Scottish city or cities will be served by Etihad. Initially, because of their larger population bases and catchment areas, it would make sense to serve either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
In the longer term, Etihad might wish to consider Aberdeen, assuming that the runway would manage a non-stop flight to Abu Dhabi (unless of course the airline were to schedule an en route stop in, say, mainland Europe).
Any new long-haul service arouses much interest in Scotland because it lessens the dependence on having to change planes in London.
Overall, these services by three major Gulf carriers will provide Scottish travellers with better access to destinations in Asia, Africa, the Far East and Australasia without having to transit via London.
It will also enable overseas visitors from the above-named destinations to access Scotland more easily. Savvy travellers will arrange their European trips on an “open jaw” basis, whereby they might fly into Scotland and head home from another UK or European city to avoid back-tracking.
On the losing end will be those long-haul (non-Gulf) carriers flying out of London Heathrow plus Heathrow itself. Also losing out will be the domestic carriers feeding Scottish transit passengers into Heathrow.