Etihad and Jet Airways to promote Maharashtra
Etihad Airways and strategic partner Jet Airways have signed a ground-breaking agreement with the Government of Maharashtra to promote tourism to the western Indian state.
The move is the first time an Indian state has signed a tourism collaboration agreement with the airline sector, and will enable both airlines to capitalise on their strong links with Maharashtra and further propel domestic and international arrivals into the state capital Mumbai and beyond.
Shri Devendra Fadnavis, the Honourable Chief Minister of Maharashtra presided over the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in Mumbai. The agreement was signed by Smt. Valsa Nair Singh, IAS, principal secretary, Tourism and Culture, Government of Maharashtra; Neerja Bhatia, Etihad Airways vice president Indian Subcontinent; and Jayaraj Shanmugam, Jet Airways chief commercial officer.
The deal followed months of discussions between the leadership of both airlines – the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates and India’s full-service premium international carrier respectively – and the state government on exploring ways to work together to promote tourism.
Under the agreement, the three entities will pool marketing resources to participate in travel-trade events in key international markets such as the UK and the UAE; jointly promote ‘Destination Maharashtra’ through advertising campaigns; and organise inbound familiarisation trips for media and travel agents.
Etihad Airways and Jet Airways are key contributors to India’s thriving travel and tourism sector carrying the biggest combined share of international traffic to and from India with one in five travellers choosing either carrier. Collectively, they operate five flights a day between Abu Dhabi – the UAE carrier’s operational hub – and Maharashtra’s main international gateway of Mumbai with domestic connections across the country. In addition, Jet Airways flies daily between Maharashtra’s second largest city of Pune and Abu Dhabi.
Maharashtra is the third largest state in India and one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Mumbai ranks second after the Indian capital Delhi in terms of first port of entry for foreign tourist arrivals into India, and fifth in domestic tourist visits.
Shri Jaykumar Rawal, Honourable Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, said: “This MoU is the beginning of a strategic partnership with two leading and most important international airlines to attract as many international tourists as possible. Together, we can create benefits for travellers and shareholders. Our aim is to jointly put in place the best strategies and practices to increase Maharashtra’s marketing footprint and position it as the most preferred destination.”
Smt. Valsa Nair Singh, IAS, principal secretary, Tourism and Culture, Government of Maharashtra, added: “This is a landmark agreement that will provide valuable support for Maharashtra Tourism’s global campaigns and marketing activities, as well as some of the industry’s most important trade and business events. This unique and important partnership between Maharashtra Tourism, Etihad Airways and Jet Airways will boost the state’s image exponentially.”
James Hogan, Etihad Aviation Group’s president and chief executive officer, said: “Being part of one of the world’s largest economies, Maharashtra has plenty to offer business and leisure travellers. We are delighted to expand our links to promote tourism to this vibrant state, which we have been serving with dedicated flights for 13 years.
“This is the first time a state government in India has ventured into such a tourism partnership with the airline industry, hence we appreciate the opportunity to work with our strategic Indian partner Jet Airways on the breakthrough agreement. Our combined operation with Jet Airways between Abu Dhabi and Mumbai, complemented by Jet’s widespread domestic services, is further testament to the importance of Maharashtra on our route map.”