Etihad Announces Service To Venice & Qatar Airways Cancels Another Route

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Etihad has officially announced details of its new service between Abu Dhabi and Venice which will see the airline competing against Qatar Airways for travelers heading to the Gulf and beyond. And, speaking of Qatar Airways, the Middle Eastern carrier has quietly cancelled the launch yet another route – this time to/from Europe.

Etihad To Start Service To Venice

Etihad has announced that, from 30 October 2016, it will begin a daily service between Abu Dhabi and Venice’s Marco Polo Airport. The airline will be taking over the route from Alitalia, an airline that already partners with Etihad and in which Etihad holds a 49% interest.

The currently published schedule looks likes this:

EY079 AUH 02:30 – 06:40 VCE (Daily A319 service)
EY080 VCE 10:55 – 19:55 AUH (Daily A319 service)

As you can see, Etihad isn’t throwing one of its wide-body aircraft on this new route – it’s going to operate it using its much smaller A319 aircraft – and that’s a down gauge for this route as Alitalia currently operates A330 wide-body aircraft on this route.

The Etihad A319 offers just 16 seats in Business Class and 90 seats in Economy Class:

etihad-a319-seat-mapEtihad A319 Seat Map – Screenshot from SeatGuru (click to enlarge in a new window)

And the Business Class seats in the A319 aren’t what we’re used to seeing on most of Etihad’s other European routes – they’re recliners and not lie-flat seats.

I can’t find any images of the seats that aren’t copyright restricted but, if you imagine a comfortable recliner (like we used to see in Business Class in years gone by), you won’t be far off the mark.

This route should be good news for flyers as it pits Etihad against Qatar Airways (who already operate a daily service between Doha and Venice). Both airlines will now be vying for travelers who are happy to connect in the Gulf when flying to Asia and Oceania – hopefully we’ll see a fare war start up any time now 🙂

qatar-airways-business-classQatar Airways A330 Business Class seats (found on most but not all A330 routes)

Qatar Airways currently has the upper hand from a premium cabin perspective as, for the time being at least, the airline operates its A330 aircraft between Doha and Venice. I’d take a Business Class seat in an A330 over a Business Class seat on Etihad’s A319 every time.

Qatar Airways Cancels Launch of Sarajevo Route

Earlier in the week Qatar Airways quietly reduced its service to Adelaide from a daily service to one that operates 5x/week and now it looks as if the airline is pulling back on another route too.

In March 2016 Qatar Airways announced that it would be starting up a service between Doha and Sarajevo from 7 September but, just two months later, the route launch was postponed amidst a series of cuts that affected 15 routes across the globe.

qatar-airways-a320-business-class-seatsQatar Airways A320 Business Class seats

The new route launch was supposed to take place on 2 November using Qatar Airways Airbus A320 aircraft on the following schedule:

QR293 DOH 07:05 – 11:05 SJJ (Wed, Fri, Sun)
QR294 SJJ 12:05 – 19:20 DOH (Wed, Fri, Sun)

But now, following another update, this route no longer appears on Qatar’s schedules. As far as I can see this route hasn’t just been delayed, it’s been cancelled until further notice.

This is just the latest in a series of route delays/cancellations from Qatar Airways with the most high-profile delay being the postponement of its Doha – Auckland “longest commercial flight in the work” route.

This was particularly embarrassing as Qatar Airways had already lost out to Emirates in the race to serve New Zealand first and then it had to delay and already delayed service once again.

auckland-new-zealandAuckland New Zealand

I’m one of a number of travellers hoping there are no more delays to that particular route as I’m scheduled to fly it shortly after launch.

In general, the issue that Qatar Airways has been having is that Airbus hasn’t been delivering its new A350 aircraft as quickly as the airline expected. This has left Qatar Airways short of aircraft to service some of the new routes it plans to operate.

But this Sarajevo route was set to be operated by A320 aircraft and I’m struggling to see how the delay in A350 deliveries could have an effect on this particular route….unless Qatar Airways was planning on deploying the A350 on a route like Doha – Helsinki (which I’d love!) and then using the A320’s which operate that route to start up service to Sarajevo.

It’s a mystery!

Bottom Line

The new Etihad route to Venice is should be excellent news for travelers despite the fact that it’s going to be operated by an Airbus A319 with a very average Business Class seat.

Having two of the major Gulf carriers competing for passengers looking to travel though their hubs and on to Asia/Australia can only mean that we have a higher chance of some great fares on the horizon.

As for Qatar Airways’ latest issues, I really hope the airline gets things together soon.

Qatar Airways offers some fantastic premium cabin products and is easily the best airline for travelers looking for highly discounted Business Class fares to the Middle East and Asia. But passengers want a bit of stability and route certainty as well as excellent pricing and that’s something that the airline hasn’t been delivering as of late.

Featured image: Pedro Szekely via Flickr


    • And that’s what happens when I write a blog while, at the same time, booking a trip to Croatia!
      Thanks for spotting the mistake – now fixed

  1. A flight 02:30/06:40 in a recliner seat, compared to QR’s premium, with basically the same served network and flight time? I would really be surprised to see some business traveller picking Etihad again from Venice. It used to be good with AZ’s A330, freshly refurbished and offering an even better seat than QR, but now EY can say goodbye to Venice

    • Yes the difference in cabin quality will be an issue for a lot of people and Business travelers who don’t pay for their own tickets may well stay away….but price will play a part for everyone else so we’ll have to see how Etihad decides to handle this.

      I suspect that if Qatar starts crushing Etihad on this route we may see Etihad schedule a bigger aircraft or bring AZ back with its A330s.

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