The launch of Etihad Airways’ flights between Abu Dhabi and Beijing is set to play a significant role in increasing trade, tourism and investment relations between the UAE and China, according to the airline’s chief executive.Business opportunities between the UAE and China will be boosted from 30 March when Etihad begins its four-flights-per-week service to the Chinese capital from the UAE’s capital, offering a total passenger capacity of more than 2,000 seats every week.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said, “China and the UAE are both experiencing massive economic expansion and Etihad Airways is extremely excited at the prospect of helping to strengthen trade ties between the two nations.
“There is a huge appetite from business and leisure travellers for flights to Beijing, especially ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games later this year, and our forward bookings are already ahead of our expectations.”
The UAE is home to nearly 200,000 Chinese people and more than 2,000 Chinese companies. The volume of trade between the UAE and China, acknowledged to be the world’s fastest growing economy, reached US$20.4 billion (AED 74.9 billion) in 2007, a huge increase of 41.2% on the previous year.
The UAE is now China’s second largest trade partner in the Gulf region and the largest market for Chinese exports. The value of Chinese exports to the UAE increased by 50% in 2007 to US$17 billion (AED 62.4 billion), with an increase of 7.7% in the amount of UAE goods being exported to China to USD $3 billion (AED 11 billion).
Etihad is offering special introductory fares to China with return economy tickets starting from AED 1,340 and business class tickets from AED 6,440, excluding taxes.
Etihad’s flights to Beijing will operate every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with EY888 departing from Abu Dhabi at 11.45pm and arriving in the Chinese capital at 11.30am the next day.
Return flight EY889 departs from Beijing every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 7.10pm arriving in Abu Dhabi at 00.20am the next day.
The flight times connect conveniently with many of Etihad’s other services from the Middle East and Europe including London Heathrow, Dublin, Bahrain, Beirut and Jeddah allowing customers to fly long-haul to Beijing via Abu Dhabi.
Etihad will operate a two class Airbus A330-200 configured to carry 262 passengers with 22 in business class and 240 in economy class.
Cargo services to Beijing are also expected to be highly popular with the A330-200 aircraft able to carry 15 tonnes of cargo with full passenger load.
Beijing will be Etihad’s eighth destination in its rapidly expanding flight network in the Asia Pacific region which already includes services to Brisbane, Sydney, Manila, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok.