Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has partnered with China Eastern Airlines, a leading carrier in China, to expand travel routes between the UAE and major Chinese cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an and Kunming, and strengthen strategic ties between the two countries. The Joint Venture (JV) signed at Etihad Airways’ headquarters in Abu Dhabi is the first of its kind between a Middle Eastern airline and a Chinese airline.

The Etihad Airways-China Eastern Airlines JV will allow the airlines to jointly develop and grow the routes between UAE and China, resulting in a stronger combined network. The JV signifies a commitment to offering expanded travel options and seamless travel experiences for passengers travelling between major Chinese cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an and Kunming, and key cities in the UAE and across the Middle East and Africa regions.

Etihad and China Eastern Airlines plan to implement a joint venture cooperation in early 2025, when both teams secure all necessary regulatory clearances. Additionally, both airlines will introduce full reciprocity to their existing frequent flyer programmes in the final quarter of 2024, allowing passengers to earn points and redeem rewards when flying with either airline.

His Excellency Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of Etihad Aviation Group, said: "This Joint Venture signifies a deep commitment to strengthening the bonds between the UAE and China, while fostering deeper cultural and economic ties. We look forward to welcoming a greater number of Chinese tourists to explore the rich cultural heritage and vibrant experiences that the UAE has to offer. This partnership is more than the expansion of routes; it is about creating lasting and meaningful connections between our two nations which will stand for decades to come."

Antonoaldo Neves, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: "This JV marks a significant milestone in our partnership with China Eastern. The JV will allow Etihad and China Eastern to offer travellers enhanced travel options and exceptional value. We are confident the JV will unlock a new era of travel opportunities, while also boosting the economic growth of Abu Dhabi and the UAE."

Wang Zhiqing, Chairman of China Eastern Airlines, said: "This year marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE. Both countries are continuously advancing high-quality collaboration on the Belt and Road Initiative and strengthening development strategy alignment, providing new opportunities and momentum for deepening cooperation between China Eastern Airlines and Etihad Airways. The signing of this JV signifies a new level of collaboration, and China Eastern is eager to work with Etihad Airways to expand the cooperation in the various business areas, and thereby enhance the strategic partnership between both airlines.

"Both China Eastern Airlines and Etihad Airways have strong global hubs, and our cooperation is highly complementary, covers a broad scope, and has great potential. We look forward to our collaboration creating more synergies, not only in facilitating passenger travel but also in building deeper economic, trade, and cultural exchanges between China and the UAE."