This post was originally published on 20 April 2016.
With Gulf-based airlines vying with each other to capture India’s aviation market – one of the fastest-growing in the world – Etihad Airways, which has an equity share in Jet Airways, will be starting luxurious three-room suite, connecting Mumbai with its hub at Abu Dhabi from May 1.
Three-room suite in the sky
Etihad Airways has raised the bar in luxury travel with the launch of a new three-room apartment that comes with an en-suite shower, double bed and personal butler.
Aptly called ‘The Residence,’ Etihad has transformed part of its A380 upper deck into a luxurious flying hotel suite — the first and only cabin of its kind to offer a trio of compartments including a living room space, bedroom and en-suite bathroom, complete with shower.
Designed for two people travelling together, the living room has a sofa, dining tables, large-size television double bed, shower room are some of the highlights of the suit, as per the airline.
A personal butler trained is also on hand to cater to guest whims, while a dedicated concierge team will look after passengers’ travel experience from ground transport to cuisine and amenities.
Etihad website describes the ‘The Residence’ experience as as ‘the world’s most luxurious living space in the air’ and it indeed looks the same for any commercial airliner.
However, the luxury in the sky comes at a cost, with the Mumbai-Abu Dhabi inaugural Jumbo flight costing about INR 3.5 lakh. Reservation page for the first flight from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai shows the price to be above AED 18,000.
Emirates, Qatar Airways to follow
Rival airline not wanting to lose an inch are designing to give befitting reply.
Emirates is planning a private bedroom first class suite on its Airbus A380s this year, with the Boeing 777 fleet to follow, with luxury like that in a luxury hotel room or yatch, though it will be for just passenger and without a butler. The fares, too, will be lesser than that of Etihad.
Similarly, Qatar Airways, too, is said to be working on having a ‘Double-bed’, at much lower Business class fare, DNA India has reported.
India to be largest aviation market by 2030
As per estimates made by several government and non-government institutions, India is flying to become the third-largest aviation market by 2020 and the largest by 2030.
According to statistics available with aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the highest traffic in 2015 was between India and UAE with about 1.6 crore air passengers, commuting between the two countries out of total international traffic of 4.86 crores.