Dnata Travel Group has partnered with Etihad Airways to operate the Etihad Holidays brand in the UK.

The partnership, which will initially focus on promoting Abu Dhabi, starts this month with holidays on sale for later this year and 2021.

A statement said Etihad Holidays would be sold primarily through an online website and UK-based contact centre.

A spokesman said the focus was on Etihad Holidays being a direct brand, however it plans to work with deals publishers. He didn’t rule out selling through agents in the future.

The division will be led by Lisa Balsom, who is the new head of Etihad Holidays at dnata. She will report to Netflights managing director Andrew Shelton.

She joins from The Residence by Cenizaro where she was director of marketing for the UK, Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Prior to that, Balsom has held senior positions with Lux Resorts, dnata, Jumeirah and British Airways.

John Bevan, chief executive of dnata Travel Group, said: “For a number of years, Etihad Holidays has offered a comprehensive range of packages to Abu Dhabi and beyond, including the Middle and Far East, Indian Ocean and Australia. Our focus is to grow from that strong foundation and use our tour operating and brand-building expertise, to further increase arrival numbers into the UAE capital and broaden the range and choice of destinations and products available.”

He added: “This has been an unprecedented period for all of our UK operations, so we’re very pleased to have reached agreement on this partnership against such a challenging backdrop. In doing so, we add to dnata Travel Group’s already extensive portfolio of brands in this market, and our overall potential for growth.”

Hareb Al Muhairy, senior vice president destination and leisure management at Etihad Airways, said: “Our new partner dnata Travel Group will act as the essential link between Etihad Holidays and the consumer, while providing full support of our marketing and distribution activities in the UK.”

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