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Etihad and China Eastern forge new network alliance

The joint venture agreement between Etihad and China Eastern is the first commercial one between a Middle Eastern airline and a Chinese airline Alamy via Reuters
The joint venture agreement between Etihad and China Eastern is the first commercial one between a Middle Eastern airline and a Chinese airline

Etihad Airways and China Eastern Airlines have agreed to expand connectivity between the UAE and China.

The UAE national airline and the Shanghai-based carrier signed a joint venture agreement – the first commercial one between a Middle Eastern airline and a Chinese airline – to jointly develop the routes.

The move will broaden the network for passengers travelling between major Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an and Kunming, and key cities in the UAE, the Middle East and Africa.



The JV cooperation will be implemented after receiving all regulatory clearances. Both airlines will allow members to fully use each other’s frequent flyer programmes starting in the last quarter of 2024.

The JV will allow Etihad and China Eastern to offer travelers enhanced options and exceptional value, said Antonoaldo Neves, CEO of Etihad Airways

“The signing of this joint venture signifies a new level of collaboration,” added China Eastern Airlines chairman Wang Zhiqing.

“We are eager to work with Etihad to expand cooperation in various business areas and enhance the strategic partnership.”

A new UN report has revealed that the UAE’s tourism revenues reached nearly $52 billion in 2023, catapulting the Gulf state into the top 10 global tourism earners.

The report said that Chinese expenditure on travel abroad reached $196.5 billion in 2023, beating the US ($150 billion), Germany ($112 billion), the UK ($110 billion) and France ($49 billion).  

Riyadh Air in new tie-ups

In the same week, China Eastern Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding with Riyadh Air, the new Saudi airline owned by the Public Investment Fund.

The pact will facilitate more connections through their main hubs in Shanghai and Riyadh, enhancing travel ease for passengers from China to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

In addition, Riyadh Air signed a new partnership with Singapore Airlines to explore opportunities for interline connectivity.

The two airlines will also work on other potential areas of commercial cooperation, including codeshare arrangements, reciprocal benefits for their frequent flyer programmes, cargo services and digital innovation.

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