UAE’s flag carrier Etihad Airways has launched its maiden flight to Guangzhou, China, from Abu Dhabi.

Etihad’s inaugural flight EY868 is said to make the airline the first international carrier to run long-haul passenger services to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in China since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis.

Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas said: “We have been tremendously excited about the launch of this service. Guangzhou is actually the latest destination to be opened in China by Etihad since the launch of the Abu Dhabi–Shanghai route back in 2012.

“It will continue to help build a solid air bridge for commerce and cultural exchanges between China and the UAE.”

The first flight departed from Abu Dhabi on 10 October 2022 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony that saw the attendance of representatives from Etihad Aviation Group, Abu Dhabi Airports Company, Miral Asset Management, and the Chinese Embassy to the UAE.

With the launch of the new scheduled service, Etihad’s network now covers 67 destinations across 45 countries.

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Etihad said that the flights would operate twice a week using a two-class Boeing 777.

Douglas added: “We are very grateful for the support from both governments, business partners and our Etihad team, as our new service to Guangzhou, will not only further address the huge demand for passenger travel between the UAE and China, building on the formidable people and business ties between the two markets, but also support the increasing consolidation and strengthening of Etihad’s presence in China and the global aviation industry.”

In May, Etihad obtained the first delivery of SAF in Japan from Neste and Itochu.