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Etihad U-Turns On Moscow Expansion Plans


  • Etihad has cancelled its plans to increase frequency to Moscow for the upcoming winter season but will upgrade the route with a larger aircraft.
  • The airline is still expanding its operations in the Russian market and will commence flights to St. Petersburg starting October 29th.
  • Etihad is implementing an overall expansion plan, increasing frequencies to Chennai, Maldives, Phuket and adding a fourth US destination in Boston.

Amid massive airline expansion plans, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has now decided to cancel its expansion plans for the upcoming winter season for Moscow, Russia. While the airline had previously planned to increase its weekly frequency to Moscow International Airport (SVO) from its hub in Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), the carrier might use larger aircraft instead.

The service

Etihad currently serves SVO with one flight daily using a Boeing 787-9 aircraft on this route. Since the carrier’s 787-9s come in a two-class and a three-class configuration, the airline, at the moment, can carry between 231 and 299 passengers per flight. According to Aviation Source News, Etihad had initially planned to increase the frequency to 10 weekly flights starting October 29th, but the plan is now put on hold.

However, the reports suggest that the airline will be upgrading the route with the larger Boeing 787-10 aircraft, which according to the airline website, can accommodate 336 passengers during this period in order to increase capacity on the route to Moscow.

Etihad 787-10 on ground

Photo: Telsek | Shutterstock

While the carrier’s frequency boost plans to Moscow are on pause, the airline is still planning to expand its operations into the Russian market.

Second destination

Earlier this year, the airline decided to commence operations to a second Russian destination during the 2023 Winter Season as part of its expansion plans. The airline has decided to begin flights to St. Petersburg in Russia starting October 29th. As reported by Aviation Week, the service will run three times a week on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays using its fleet of 787-9 aircraft.

Flight EY-069 has a scheduled departure time of 02:50 from AUH and a scheduled arrival time of 08:05 in St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport (LED), with a flight time of 6 hours and 15 minutes. The return flight EY-070 has a scheduled departure time of 12:10 from LED and is set to arrive in AUH at 19:15, with a flight time of a little over six hours.

Etihad 787-9 flying

Photo: Tom Boon | Simple Flying

Etihad is the fifth-largest capacity provider in Russia with a 5.2% market share, and with the additional three weekly flights to LED, this is set to increase. While at the moment, Etihad only operates flights to one Russian destination, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi operates a further six weekly flights to Moscow Domodedovo International Airport (DME).

Overall expansion

While the airline had to downsize its route network and fleet considerably during the pandemic, Etihad is now back in a position to regrow in a more sustainable manner and has already worked out an expansion plan.

The carrier is set to increase its frequency to Chennai International Airport with an additional seven flights bringing the total weekly frequency on the route to 21. Additionally, Etihad is adding another seven weekly flights to popular tourist destinations such as the Maldives and Phuket, Thailand, bringing the total weekly flights to 14 for each destination.

Etihad Airways Airbus A380

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The airline also recently re-inaugurated its Airbus A380 service, which will exclusively serve the London Heathrow – Abu Dhabi route to increase capacity. While the carrier is also set to increase frequencies to several European destinations such as Madrid, Milan, Rome, Frankfurt, and Munich, Etihad is also expanding further afield in North America.

With the addition of Boston as Etihad’s fourth US destination, the airline is set to operate 11% more flights to North America in the summer of 2024. More importantly, Etihad’s passengers can take advantage of using the TSA pre-clearance at AUH on flights to North America for a seamless travel experience and connect to more US destinations with Etihad’s codeshare partner, JetBlue.

Source: Aviation Source News, Aviation Week.

  • Etihad Boeing 787-9
    Etihad had been a significant investor in Alitalia in the years leading up to the first round of loans from the Italian government. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

    Etihad Airways

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Abu Dhabi International Airport

    Year Founded:

    Tony Douglas

    United Arab Emirates

  • Moscow Airport Sheremetyevo

    Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:


    Alexander Ponomarenko

    Passenger Count :
    30,623,796 (2021)

    Runways :
    06R/24L – 3,700m (12,139ft) |06C/24C – 3,550m (11,646ft) |06L/24R – 3,200m (10,498ft)

    Terminal A |Terminal B |Terminal C |Terminal D |Terminal E |Terminal F |Terminal G (Planned)


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