The UAE flag carrier is the only airline directly linking Guangzhou with Abu Dhabi.
Yesterday marked the launch of Etihad Airways new route from Abu Dhabi to Guangzhou. The Middle Eastern carrier deployed a Boeing 787 for the occasion, although this won’t be the standard aircraft choice in the immediate future. Let’s take a closer look at the significance of Etihad’s new China-bound route.
It has been less than a month since Etihad Airways 1st declared its intentions to become the only carrier to operate direct flights between Abu Dhabi and Guangzhou. Indeed, according to AeroRoutes, it 1st publicized the new service on September 12th, with a planned beginning date, which it met, of October 10th.
FlightRadar24.com shows that the inaugural flight, EY868, left Abu Dhabi International (AUH) at 23:39 local time (vs a scheduled departure of 23:00). After just over 7 hours in the air, it touched down at Guangzhou Baiyun International (CAN) at 10:46 the following morning, 21 minutes after its planned 10:25 coming.
The 1st flight was operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, registered as A6-BNB. Etihad’s booking website, and reporting by UAE publication Zawya, confirm that the following flights will see two-class Boeing 777-300ERs deployed instead. However, AeroRoutes notes that, as of December 2nd, the 787-9 will be utilized again.
Abu Dhabi and Guangzhou
Going forward, Etihad Airways prepares to operate 2 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and Guangzhou. As well as the 23:00 Monday departure that we saw yesterday, flight EY868 will also operate at the same time of night every Friday.
Meanwhile, the UAE-bound flights (EY869) will leave Guangzhou on Wednesdays and Sundays. These will be evening affairs, departing the Chinese city at 18:40 local time. They have a scheduled duration of 8 hours, which, accounting for the time difference, will see them come back in Abu Dhabi at 22:40. According to Zawya, Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas welcomed the route’s launch, saying that:
“We are very thankful for the support from both governments, business partners, and our Etihad team. (…) Our new service to Guangzhou will not only further address the huge demand for passenger journeys between the UAE and China, building on the formidable people and business ties between the 2 markets, but also support the increasing consolidation and strengthening of Etihad’s presence in China and the global aviation industry.”
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“Guangzhou is actually the latest destination to be opened in China by Etihad Airways 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.”
There is also a wider level of significance to the launch of the new direct services. Indeed, Zawya reports that, by operating its 1st AUH-CAN flight, Etihad became the 1st foreign carrier to operate long-haul flights to all of Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai since the onset of the coronavirus.
These are China’s top three gateways, and Etihad’s presence is a sign of its commitment to the market.
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