London, 18 December 2023: Today, Etihad Airways and China Eastern Airlines signalled their intent to strengthen their partnership by signing a Strategic Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to enhance commercial and operational ties.
The accord reflects a commitment to explore a deepened co-operation that will provide travellers with wider choices, higher quality services, and increased value, while contributing to sustainable aviation*.
Building upon their successful existing partnership, the airlines plan to implement a broad collaboration including an expanded codeshare, reciprocal loyalty programmes, cargo transport, maintenance, repair and overhaul, ground handling, catering, lounge access, staff training, and several sustainability initiatives. This comprehensive approach will improve efficiencies while maintaining world-renowned hospitality.
The MoU should facilitate China Eastern’s ambition to begin services to Abu Dhabi through its discussions with Abu Dhabi Airports, the Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi, and other key stakeholders in the UAE capital.
A combination of Etihad and China Eastern services, which would coincide with the newly opened Terminal A at Abu Dhabi International Airport, will create a robust platform for China-UAE air traffic and establish an ideal launchpad for connections between China, the Middle East, and Africa.
Antonoaldo Neves, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, emphasised the significance of the partnership. He said: “Our two airlines have operated an enduring partnership for over a decade. This MoU is an important milestone and a key to establishing a long-term mutually beneficial cooperation. I am highly encouraged by the momentum of our cooperation, and I look forward to seeing further success.
“It also marks a significant development of the direct links between Abu Dhabi and China and underscores the confidence of one of the most influential Chinese carriers in Etihad. The MoU paves the way for an agreement that will boost Abu Dhabi’s economic development, as well as supporting China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative.”
Li Yangmin, President of China Eastern Airlines Group, said: “The MoU builds upon our existing co-operation. It makes possible an agreement that would allow us to collaborate in real and practical ways as part of the continually flourishing relationship between China and the UAE.
“The connection between China Eastern’s Shanghai hub and Etihad’s network through Abu Dhabi will significantly enhance our footprint in the Middle East and Africa. It supports our commitment to the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and the ‘Aerial Silk Road,’ stimulating economic, trade and cultural exchanges between China and partner countries.”
His Excellency Hussain Al Hammadi, the UAE Ambassador to China added: “In a remarkable testament to strengthened collaboration, our partnership goes beyond operational enhancements, emphasizing the promotion of extensive people-to-people exchanges.
“We eagerly anticipate welcoming a surge of Chinese tourists to the UAE, inviting them to immerse themselves in our nation's unique culture. As we approach the forthcoming 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UAE and China, we express our sincere hopes for an even deeper relationship across diplomacy, trade, culture, and various other spheres.”