Etihad Airways and China Eastern Airlines forge a strategic partnership

Render of tailplanes of Etihad Airways and China Eastern Airline jets together.
Image Credit: Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways and China Eastern Airlines have recently inked a Strategic Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

This strategic pact aims to amplify their commercial and operational ties, promising travelers a better ranges of travel options. The agreement will also have a focus on sustainable aviation practices.

A Decade-Long Partnership

Building upon their successful decade-long partnership, the airlines are gearing up for a multifaceted collaboration that encompasses various facets of their operations.

Codeshare Expansion

The cornerstone of their collaboration lies in an expanded codeshare, enabling seamless connectivity for passengers between the networks of Etihad and China Eastern.

Reciprocal Loyalty Programs

In a bid to reward their loyal customer base, the airlines plan to introduce reciprocal loyalty programs, adding an extra layer of value for frequent flyers.

Diversified Collaborations

Beyond passenger services, the collaboration extends to cargo transport, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), ground handling, catering, staff training, and a host of sustainability initiatives.


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This comprehensive approach is poised to enhance operational efficiency without compromising the renowned hospitality of both airlines.

Photo Credit: Etihad Airways

Ambitious Plans for Abu Dhabi

The MoU also acts as a catalyst for China Eastern’s ambition to introduce services to Abu Dhabi.

Engaging in discussions with Abu Dhabi Airports, the Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi, and other key stakeholders, the airlines aim to expand their footprint in the UAE capital.

With the synchronization of Etihad and China Eastern services coinciding with the opening of Terminal A at Abu Dhabi International Airport, a robust platform for China-UAE air traffic is set to emerge.

This not only facilitates streamlined travel between the two nations but also establishes an ideal launchpad for connections spanning China, the Middle East, and Africa.

Antonoaldo Neves, CEO of Etihad Airways, emphasizes the significance of this partnership, stating, “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.”

Economic Implications: Belt and Road Initiative

The collaboration holds broader economic implications, as highlighted by Neves: “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, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the real and practical ways in which the agreement will contribute to the 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.”

Strengthening Diplomatic Ties

Hussain Al Hammadi, the UAE Ambassador to China, underscores the broader implications of this collaboration.

“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.”

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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