An Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner touched down in Beijing yesterday after its inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Flight EY888 departed Abu Dhabi at 21:30 local time yesterday and arrived in Beijing at 08:50 today.
To celebrate the milestone event, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in Abu Dhabi, attended by senior executives from Etihad Airways, the embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the UAE, and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
The new 787-9 Dreamliner will operate with 299 seats - 28 in business class and 271 in economy class - representing a 14 per cent capacity increase.
Peter Baumgartner, chief executive, Etihad Airways, said: “Since launching flights between our two capitals of Abu Dhabi and Beijing nine years ago, we have experienced the huge growth of China’s outbound tourism market and enjoyed strong demand from business and leisure travellers.
“The decision to upgrade our operations to the Dreamliner reflects the importance of Beijing and the Chinese market to the airline, and the sustained development of economic relations between the two countries.
“Beijing is the nation’s economic, political, cultural and international exchange centre, which underlines its importance within Etihad Airways’ global network.”
The airline’s Boeing 787 fleet is equipped with the latest inflight entertainment system featuring over 750 hours of movies and programmes, as well as hundreds of music choices and a selection of games for both adults and children.
Ni Jian, Chinese ambassador to the UAE, complimented Etihad Airways’ contributions in the effort of enhancing the capacity of air connectivity between China and the UAE.
He said: “For many years, the UAE has been the second largest trading partner and the largest export market of China in the West Asia and North Africa Region.
“The UAE is a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and committed to its central mission of bringing the Belt and Road vision to life.”