Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has commenced scheduled flights between its hub in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, China.

The airline will initially operate five weekly Airbus A330-300 services to Shanghai’s main international airport – Pudong (PVG) – with commitments to a daily schedule from April 15.

The President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, said the new route had special significance as the first non-stop commercial passenger flight between Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

“The new Shanghai route adds much more than just another destination to the Etihad Airways global network.

“It brings the capital of the UAE and the commercial and financial centre of mainland China closer together and creates new opportunities for government, trade, tourism and cultural exchange.

“Shanghai is today the most populous city in China with an estimated 23 million inhabitants and is a powerhouse economy with a total GDP in excess of US$256.3 billion.

“It’s also building an ambitious future in which it will be the world’s epicentre of financial and international trade.

“Our entry into the Shanghai market is timed to take advantage of these opportunities.

“We have great confidence that the Shanghai route will contribute to a sustainable future for our passenger and cargo business in China.

“Our schedule provides full connectivity to key destinations and offers passengers from the Shanghai catchment greater choice and travel convenience.”

Mr Hogan also noted the Abu Dhabi-Shanghai route was the only one in Etihad Airways’ China network to offer the luxury and prestige of a three-class aircraft with first, business and economy cabins.

“From our world-leading first class, with its private suites and onboard chefs, through to our inspired service in economy, Etihad Airways will offer travellers from the region an incomparable flying experience.”