Featured image: Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways, China Eastern Announce Joint Venture

DALLAS — In a move that signifies a deepening of international aviation partnerships, Etihad Airways (EY) and China Eastern Airlines (MU) have announced the formation of a Joint Venture (JV).

This pivotal agreement, signed during a ceremony at Etihad Airways’ headquarters in Abu Dhabi, marks the first commercial JV between a Middle Eastern airline and a Chinese airline. The JV is subject to all necessary governmental approvals and will not involve equity investment.

Etihad Airways A6-BLV Boeing 787-9 (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Livery) EGLL. Photo: Ervin Eslami/Airways

Destinations, Implementation Timeline

As with most airline partnerships, this one aims to enhance and expand the connectivity between the UAE and China. The EY release states that collaboration promises to provide travelers a seamless journey experience across major Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an, and Kunming, as well as key destinations in the UAE and the broader Middle East and Africa regions.

Scheduled for implementation in early 2025, the joint venture will include the airlines' introduction of full reciprocity for their frequent flyer programs by the last quarter of 2024. This will enable passengers to earn points and redeem rewards across both airlines seamlessly.

China Eastern Airlines B-5902 Airbus A330-200 (Greenland Livery). Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways

Comments from Airline Officials

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 travelers 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.”

China Eastern Airlines Chairman WangZhiqing said, "This year marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE. Both countries continue to develop and strengthen the high-value, strategic collaboration on the Belt and Road Initiative, and this momentum creates opportunities and motivation 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."

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