Etihad Airways has unveiled plans to fly to Brazil, the airline’s first South American destination.
“Brazil is a logical next step for us and will mark the sixth continent we serve and our coming of age as a truly global airline,” explained Etihad chief executive James Hogan.
The daily Sao Paulo flights will start in June, 2013.
The service will be the first direct air link between Abu Dhabi and any South American country and will mean Etihad Airways serves all of the BRIC high growth nations.
Brazil is the world’s sixth largest economy, having overtaken the UK in 2011.
It is the largest country in South America and has the biggest population, at almost 200 million.
Its trade and tourism will be boosted by its hosting of both the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.
Hogan added: “Business and tourism flows between the United Arab Emirates and Brazil have been growing and will be strengthened by our daily direct flights between Abu Dhabi and Sao Paulo.”
Brazil’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, João de Mendonça Lima Neto, said: “I congratulate Etihad Airways on today’s announcement that it will open a daily direct flight between Abu Dhabi, and São Paulo, the commercial and financial centre of Brazil.
“We are witnessing significant growth in the bilateral relations between Brazil and the UAE and we are certain that Etihad Airways flights will create new opportunities for government, trade, tourism and cultural exchanges.”
More than 50 Brazilian nationals work for Etihad Airways, including 18 pilots and 27 cabin crew.
All are based in the UAE.
Brazil is currently the UAE’s fourth largest trading partner with bi-lateral trade between the two countries valued at US$2.85 billion.
Authorities hope to lift this to US$10 billion within five years.
Etihad is considered the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards.