Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has commenced non-stop flights from its home base in Abu Dhabi to Erbil,Iraq. The twice weekly service, which will be the UAE’s first commercial service to the country, will operate twice weekly with a two-class Airbus A320 aircraft. The commencement of Etihad’s services to Erbil follows the successful launch of the airline’s flights to Baghdad in April this year, which quickly grew from three services per week to a daily service. “Etihad is delighted to be the first UAE carrier to operate both Baghdad and Erbil, said James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer. “The response to our services to Iraq has been overwhelmingly positive and we are expecting a high volume of traffic on this new route. Iraq is a key market for Etihad and will be an important focus for the airline in 2010. We believe the new route will attract leisure travellers from Iraq who are looking for short breaks within the Gulf region, as well as business customers, friends and relatives travelling between the UAE and Erbil.” Etihad has recently launched cargo operations to Erbil, which is expected to perform well for Etihad Airways.Etihad’s flight EY557 to Erbil will depart Abu Dhabi on Tuesdays and Sundays at 08.35am and arrives at Erbil’s international airport at 10.25 am the same day. The return flight, EY558, will depart Erbil on the same days at 11.30pm, arriving in Abu Dhabi at 03.10pm.