UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways has announced plans for significant expansion in China. With new routes to Chengdu and Shanghai in the works, Etihad hopes to address the numerous trade and travel opportunities in this region.
Etihad plans to launch an Abu Dhabi-to-Chengdu route on December 15, while nonstop service to Shanghai is scheduled to commence on March 1, 2012. Both routes, which are subject to government approval, will be performed on Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan sees great economic potential in East Asia, especially the southwestern city of Chengdu. “The new Chengdu services will connect the UAE with the economic center and transportation and communication hub of China’s booming southwest region,” Hogan said in a statement. “This will further stimulate the growth of commerce and trade between the UAE and China, already the UAE’s third largest trading partner.”
What’s more, Hogan explained, this route marks the first direct link between the UAE and the Sichuan province.
Sichuan Airport Group Chairman Li Wei also points to the numerous benefits of this new service. “Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport has been focusing on the construction of infrastructure, the soft environment and consistent improvement of service levels,” he explained. “We are glad to see Etihad starting a direct service from Chengdu to Abu Dhabi, and we look forward to having more airlines here.”
With the Chengdu route targeting the Sichuan province, Etihad’s Shanghai service will address the Mainland China market. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier will also be relying on its Crystal Cargo operation for the trade of high-tech goods and other valuables.
In addition to these proposed routes, Etihad also operates daily service to Beijing.