Etihad Is Cutting San Francisco Flights In October 2017

Filed Under: Etihad

Reuters is reporting that Etihad will be discontinuing flights between Abu Dhabi and San Francisco as of October 29, 2017. This might surprise some, given what a tech hub San Francisco is, but I’ve been hearing for a long time that this was Etihad’s worst performing US route.

Etihad used to offer daily flights between Abu Dhabi and San Francisco, though as of February of this year they reduced the frequencies to 3x weekly.

Keep in mind that Air India began flying nonstop between Delhi and San Francisco in late 2015, and apparently they were performing so well on the route that they even decided to recently make the flight daily.

Air-India-Lounge-London-Heathrow - 46

So we saw Etihad halving service to San Francisco, while Air India was doubling service. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, since a majority of Etihad’s traffic to/from San Francisco carried passengers to India.

Arguably they still had a fighting chance at the time, but with the recent electronics ban on flight from the Middle East to the US, that made this flight even less compelling. This really is a golden opportunity for Air India to add flights to the US.

Etihad isn’t the only Gulf carrier to reduce flights to the US. Emirates also recently announced that they were cutting a bunch of US frequencies.


Etihad says that they “remain strongly committed to its other U.S. services, which are performing at, or above, commercial targets.” However, they’ve also said that they won’t be adding any more flights to the US.

Emirates will continue operating flights between Dubai and San Francisco, while Qatar Airways claims they’ll launch flights from Doha to San Francisco next year. However, I highly doubt that will actually happen, especially in light of the recent situation with Qatar.

Are you surprised to see Etihad cut flights to San Francisco?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. They didn’t do themselves any favor by using a JetAirways plane instead of Etihad on the route for a long time (or still?) Or maybe that only mattered to a few of us.

  2. @nemme, given that people were choosing angle-flat/middle seat in business Air India over this, I doubt it was the Jet Airways plane that tanked the route.

  3. Well, I get to fly this one in F in a few weeks. Been wanting to give it a try. Just in time.

  4. Air India is already serving three cities (JFK, ORD, IAD) that Etihad is currently serving and might start DFW and LAX routes too by end of this year and looks like it will be huge advantage for Air India considering the amount of Indians in those cities and also electronics Ban on ME3.

  5. …and there is no lap top ban on flights from India. I imagine techies are sensitive to 14 hrs of disconnect on the AUH flight, as well as not wanting to put their work in baggage.

  6. Maybe Etihad is making room for it’s junior partner, Jet Airways, to start direct DEL/BOM/BLR service to SFO. The Air India direct service seems to be doing well, and Jet should have a better product. Aircraft availability could be an issue with Jet.

  7. Etihad has been operating its own metal ( not jet metal) for almost 2 years now. This had been my family’s primary airline in J from southern india to sfo. Pre-clearance at AUH saved us so much time on arrival. We will miss this flight. Hopefully qatar takes over with the new qsuites.

  8. Its not the 380 and there is no apartment. Prefer Emirates in that case or SQ or CX to India. Nothing will make me fly AI

    while it may not be the Jet metal its F is indistinguishable from Jet metal

  9. Surprised? No. I did love this route. Seemed like they always had business award availability. Using ANA miles it was a great way to get to Europe, Middle East, and Africa for cheap. I actually have flights with them during the last two weeks of October but I had planned on using them to get to Europe next summer. :/

  10. I flew AI from SFO and while I will agree with everyone that service / equipment is so much better on all other carriers, the simple fact that AI gets you to India faster than most other carriers and at a reasonable hour (early evening, not in the middle of the night) is a competitive advantage.

    Sure if I have all the time in the world or on leisure, I’ll spend some time in the UAE, but if I’ve got business to do in India, AI is the fastest and most convenient way to get there, even if the plane is 20+ years old!

  11. Even before AI, most business travelers from SF travel westward to India, e.g. through Hong Hong or sometimes Japan. A few particularly loyal with go via Dubai (also they have a good care arrangement with the Indian govt)

  12. Apart from Air India’s SFO flight which has caused loss of traffic to Etihad one other factor is the Singapore Airlines direct service to SFO which commenced recently would have further reduced Indian traffic on the AUH – SFO sector. Also the electronics ban which does not apply to AI/SQ.

    SQ flies to many Indian cities and their SFO flight is timed nicely for Indian connections with very competitive fares. About 1k$ in Economy.

  13. @ Apu — First they’ll have to officially cancel your flight (I haven’t checked, but as of this morning they hadn’t). At that point I’d contact American, and either Etihad will have probably automatically accommodated you on sometimes, or they can reach out to a liaison to give you a reasonable accommodation on another routing. Good luck!

  14. If pressure on the UAE flights continues, I’d rather see EK go to 5x weekly A380 instead of down-gauge to a daily 77W. That will be a sad day if it happens.

  15. I don’t get it… just checked the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the number of passengers carried by Etihad in 2016 between AUH and SFO is almost double LAX! Could it have dropped that much in 2017?

  16. It is sad to see Etihad dropping out of SFO. I fly SFO-India 5 times a year for last 12 years. Half of times J class. Flown Emirates, Etihad, AI, Jet, lufthansa, ANA, United. SQ and sometimes Qatar via Dallas.

    I love Etihad and AI on way back from India. You can work whole day and reach airport at decent time and land in SF so u can stil work half day.

    On Y class AI has best legroom, width and footrest. If u ignore Video systems problem, it is very good for North India. I feel frequent traveleres choose direct flight over luxury of ME3.

  17. I flew AI to SFO with my Family and we liked the flight timings we flew in the mornin from Delhi about 4AM and reached SFO at 7AM.Now they have added another service which is also great which leaves in the evening from Delhi and arrives in the evening at SFO.

    I love their 3-3-3 Configuration in the economy and also their legroom is great for a 17 hours flight over the pacific and the best thing is their connection and baggage allowance as soon as you land in India within an hour you have a direct flight to all major cities of India like Bangalore,Jaipur,Lucknow,Chennai,Hyderabad,Kollata,Mumbai etc.

    So for me AI is the best

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