New global carrier for SFO with an Indian twist

Etihad will use a Jet Airways 777 on its new SFO-Abu Dhabi run (Photo: Aero Icarus / Flickr)

Etihad will use a Jet Airways 777 on its new SFO-Abu Dhabi run (Photo: Aero Icarus / Flickr)

Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways announced on Monday that it will fly to San Francisco International starting November 18. SFO will be the sixth U.S. city served by the rapidly expanding UAE carrier. Kinda….

This comes on the heals of Emirates Airline’s recent announcement that it will add double decker A380 flights at SFO starting this December.

Etihad is perhaps best known now as the carrier that recently said it will offer a spacious three bedroom suite (with shower) on board its A380 on flights between Abu Dhabi and London at the cost of $40,000 round trip.

Be sure to note the column "Operated by:"

Be sure to note the column “Operated by:”

Don’t get your hopes up that SFO will see that suite, or even an Etihad-liveried jet any time soon. 

Instead, SFO will see a return of Jet Airways planes, which is now 24%-owned by Etihad. Etihad is growing so fast that it is unable to deploy one of its own aircraft on the route.

An Etihad spokesperson tells TravelSkills that flights will use a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft leased from India’s Jet Airways, which will have the livery, layout and seats of Jet Airways, but that Etihad crews will staff the flights. The spokesperson did not know when or if Etihad may deploy one of its own aircraft on the route.

The Jet Airways 777-300ER used by Etihad has eight first class seats (1-2-1), 30 in business (1-2-1) and 308 (3-4-3) in economy.

Jet Airways flew SFO-Shanghai-Mumbai back in 2008-2009.

Fares: For flights in November, economy runs from about $780 to $1380 round trip. Business class is around $5,000-$7000. First class is $14,515.

Etihad LogoEtihad is one of three Gulf carriers (the third being Qatar Airways) that seem to be taking the world by storm and freaking out large global carriers in the US, Asia and Europe with their posh planes, modern airports and excellent inflight service. Etihad recently launched daily nonstops from LAX to Abu Dhabi and says that in addition to San Francisco, it will launch nonstops to Dallas starting in December.

Related: Biz Trip: Abu Dhabi 

“We cannot be more thrilled to welcome Etihad to San Francisco,” said Tom Kiely, executive vice president of the San Francisco Travel Association. “Having just attended the Arabian Travel Market convention in Dubai, I saw first hand what Etihad’s revolutionary premium product is like. It will complement SFO’s existing service from India, southeast Asia and the Gulf region.”

India is indeed a key (if not THE key) market for these flights. As a matter of fact, The Times of India headline about the service reads Etihad to link Delhi, San Francisco via Abu Dhabi on planes leased from Jet. It is estimated that nearly 250,000 Indians reside in the Bay Area.

“San Francisco is another strong addition and provides our first direct link to Northern California. Given its global prominence as a tourism and business centre, we anticipate strong demand in First, Business and Economy Class, not only between San Francisco and Abu Dhabi, but onwards to destinations across our network and the networks of our codeshare partners,” said Etihad’s president and CEO James Hogan. Etihad’s codeshare partner in the US is American Airlines.

Chris McGinnis


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