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Etihad Tightens Gulf Squeeze on Lufthansa With Munich Expansion

Etihad Airways PJSC, the third-biggest Gulf carrier, will follow regional No. 1 Emirates in adding more than 1,500 seats a week on services to Munich, intensifying competition at the Deutsche Lufthansa AG hub.

Etihad will switch to double-daily flights from Abu Dhabi starting Feb. 1, it said today. Like the existing daily service, the trips will be operated by Airbus SAS A330-300s with eight first-class seats, 32 in business and 191 in economy.

The expansion comes after Emirates said Nov. 13 it would use Airbus A380 superjumbos on both daily flights from Dubai instead of a single A380 and a smaller Boeing Co. 777, adding almost 1,800 extra seats a week from March 30. The twin moves ramp up pressure on Lufthansa, for which Munich ranks second only to Frankfurt in terms of international connections.

“Munich is among our most successful destinations in Europe, as it has constantly high business and leisure travelers alike,” Etihad said in a statement today, adding that the route is attracting more traffic in both directions.

A bilateral treaty currently limits carriers from the United Arab Emirates to three destinations in Germany. With Etihad and Emirates both flying to Frankfurt and Dusseldorf and Emirates also serving Hamburg under a special permission, the pair are able to expand there only by adding frequencies.

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