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Etihad airways will launch non-stop daily flights to Medina, the regional capital of the western Saudi Arabian province of Al Madinah and the second holiest city in Islam after the Holy city of Makkah. With the addition of the new service, which will start on February 1, 2014, Etihad Airways will offer 50 weekly flights to four destinations in Saudi Arabia which, along with Madinah, include Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah.

Flights between Abu Dhabi and Madinah will be operated by an A320 aircraft fitted with 16 pearl Business Class and 120 Economy Class seats, offering a total 1,904 seats per week.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ president and chief executive officer, said:”Saudi Arabia has always been a key market for Etihad Airways and Medina is therefore an important strategic destination for the airline. Our new flights will cater to the Saudi Arabian population living in the UAE, as well as to the growing numbers of business and religious travelers looking to fly to the city.”

The new service to Madinah will be Etihad Airways’ ninth destination in the Arabian Peninsula, joining Dammam, Jeddah, Riyadh, Kuwait, Bahrain, Doha, Muscat, and Sana’a.

The airline will also increase its Abu Dhabi-Colombo service from seven flights per week to a double daily schedule from February 26, 2014.

Operated with an A320 aircraft fitted with 16 Pearl Business Class seats and 120 Coral Economy Class seats, the service will add over, 1,900 seats per week on the Abu Dhabi-Colombo route.

Etihad Airways also announced that it has temporarily suspended its three weekly passenger flights and two weekly cargo flights to the Libyan capital, Tripoli following safety and operational challenges which the airline has observed in recent months at the city airport.

Captain Richard Hill, Etihad Airways’ chief operations officer, said: “As the safety and security of our guests, employees and assets remains our number one priority, our assessment of the existing situation at Tripoli airport does not provide the level of assurance we require to ensure safe operation of our flights. Once we are satisfied that the arrangements at Tripoli airport meet our requirements, we will resume services.” – TTN Middle East December 2013