The carrier, which plans to buy a stake in Jet Airways, will also enhance the seat capacity on its Chennai flights by using a bigger aircraft, Etihad said in a release in Mumbai. The Union Cabinet recently approved an exponential increase in seat capacity to nearly 50,000 seats per week from 13,000 seats per week between India and Abu Dhabi.

Incidentally, Etihad's announcement comes days after BJP leader Subramanian Swamy moved the Supreme Court, challenging its purchase of a 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways for Rs 2,058 crore, alleging large-scale corruption in the proposed deal. The transaction, which was cleared by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, needs approval from the Cabinet and regulators.

Swamy, in his petition, also sought a CBI probe into the exponential increase in bilateral. "India is a key market for growth. Following the recent signing of a new air services agreement between India and the UAE, we now have the opportunity to add significant capacity between the two countries," James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said.

Etihad will increase travel options between Abu Dhabi and India by introducing more flights and wide-bodied jets by the end of 2013, the carrier said. The airline will start operations on new routes in 2014, subject to regulatory approval, it said. "From November 2013, we plan to more than triple the number of seats on Mumbai and New Delhi routes, reflecting the growing importance of the Indian market," Etihad said.

By December 2013, the carrier will increase frequency of its Abu Dhabi-Mumbai and Abu Dhabi-New Delhi flights, Etihad said. The airline will deploy the wide-bodied A340-600 on one of its daily flights to Mumbai, offering passengers first, business and economy class.

Etihad will also replace the 136-seater A320 aircraft with the 174-seater A321 on the Abu Dhabi-Chennai route, in view of the growing passenger demands, the release said. "The airline also plans to code share on a wide range of flights operated within India by Jet Airways, subject to regulatory approval," it said in a release.

(Agencies)

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