Etihad of UAE Plans Flights to Moscow

bloombergA model of an Etihad Airways passenger jet being displayed at the airline's booth at a Singapore air show in February.
The United Arab Emirates' flagship carrier, Etihad Airways, will start flying from its Abu Dhabi base to Moscow's Domodedovo Airport in December, the company announced Monday.

Etihad will run five flights per week to Moscow from Dec. 1, the company said in a statement posted on Dubai-based Internet news portal Ame Info.

The announcement that Etihad will start flying to Moscow follows hot on the heels of the company starting flights between Abu Dhabi and Minsk. The company will also open up four weekly flights to Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Dec. 2, the statement said.

Etihad's expansion into the former Soviet Union comes as Russia's new rich flock in ever-greater numbers to the Emirates, in search of sun, real estate and a convenient tax haven.

"The country's recent economic development is creating an increasingly affluent population with a huge appetite to access Abu Dhabi's property market and growing leisure attractions," Etihad chief executive James Hogan said in the statement.

Since being set up by royal decree in 2003, Etihad has become one of the world's fastest-growing airlines, carrying over 2.8 million passengers in the first six months of 2008. The airline still lags someway behind Dubai-based Emirates Airlines, which already runs regular flights to Moscow.

Some major players have been looking to offset serious turbulence in the global aviation industry by cashing in on Russia's booming economy in recent months.

In early June, American Airlines opened its first route to Russia, flying between Chicago and Moscow.