An Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner touched down in Beijing today after its inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Flight EY888 departed Abu Dhabi at 09:30pm local time yesterday and arrived in Beijing at 08:50am 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 features Etihad Airways’ next-generation Business and Economy Class seats. It 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 Officer of 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.”
H.E. Mr. 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. As a key aviation hub in the Gulf region, the UAE and Abu Dhabi will continue to play a positive role in the development of the ‘Belt and Road’ framework, using the strong global network of Etihad Airways.”
H.E. Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, added: “China has grown to become the largest overseas source market for Abu Dhabi hotel guest arrivals, and through our pro-active in-territory promotional efforts supported by further expansion in capacity, we are looking forward to welcoming 600,000 Chinese visitors to the emirate by 2021. Recent developments such as visas on arrival will help promote the UAE and Abu Dhabi as a unique business and leisure destination. It will also encourage Chinese travellers to take advantage of the excellent stopover packages on offer year round while en route to over 40 destinations across the Gulf region, Europe, Africa and America.”
The Business Studios in Business Class offer direct aisle access, a fully-flat bed of up to 80.5 inches in length, and an increase of 20 per cent in personal space. Upholstered in fine Poltrona Frau Leather, the Business Studio is equipped with an in-seat massage and pneumatic cushion control system which enables guests to adjust the firmness and comfort of their seat.
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. Each Business Studio has an 18-inch personal touch-screen TV with noise-cancelling headsets. Guests can also enjoy mobile connectivity, onboard Wi-Fi and seven satellite channels of live TV.
Economy Smart Seats provide enhanced comfort with a unique ‘fixed wing’ headrest, adjustable lumbar support, a seat width of approximately 19 inches and an 11.1” personal TV monitor on each seat. The aircraft has been designed with enhancements including humidity controls while air pressure levels are set to ensure a smoother flight, allowing guests to arrive feeling fresher.