Etihad Scraps San Francisco Route on Stiffer U.S. Competition

  • Abu Dhabi carrier suspends flights from Oct. 29 on weak demand
  • Etihad to continue service to five other U.S. destinations

Etihad Airways will scrap flights to San Francisco as stiffer competition in the U.S. hit the route’s profitability.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline will suspend the service starting Oct. 29 because fares and passenger levels were lower than planned, the state-owned company said Wednesday in an emailed statement. The company will re-deploy the Boeing 777 jets, which served the route, to unidentified destinations across its network.

The Abu Dhabi-San Francisco route, which started in November 2014, was reduced from daily service to three times a week earlier this year as Persian Gulf carriers grapple with U.S. challenges. Dubai-based rival Emirates in April moved to eliminate 25 weekly flights to the U.S. citing the fallout from restrictions imposed by President Donald Trump on travel and on-board electronics affecting Mideast passengers and carriers.

Etihad, which didn’t mention the U.S.’s policies in its statement, is also in the midst of a strategy review, spurred by struggles at affiliates Alitalia SpA and Air Berlin Plc. That’s putting more pressure on maximizing profitability of its own services. Meanwhile, larger rival Qatar Airways said in April that it plans to add San Francisco to its network of U.S. destinations in 2018.

Etihad will offer refunds or re-book passengers with tickets on the San Francisco flight after Oct. 29. The airline will continue to serve five U.S. destinations including Chicago, Dallas and New York.

“Etihad Airways remains strongly committed to its other U.S. services, which are performing at, or above, commercial targets,” the company said.

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