Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has commenced non-stop flights from its home base in Abu Dhabi to Tokyo, becoming the first Middle Eastern airline to operate to the Japanese capital.
The inaugural flight, EY878, departed Abu Dhabi at 10:25pm on March 27 and landed at Narita airport in Tokyo at 1.35pm on March 28.
Etihad will operate five non-stop flights per week to Tokyo, in addition to the five flights per week it offers to Nagoya.
The flights will be operated by three-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft and will feature in-flight services dedicated to the Japanese market, including a tailored menu, local in-flight entertainment content and cabin crew consisting of a number of Japanese speakers and nationals.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said Etihad was delighted to be the first Middle Eastern carrier to operate to Tokyo, and was expecting a high volume of traffic on the route, particularly business travellers.
“We also believe the variety of high profile attractions opening in Abu Dhabi in the coming years, including Ferrari World, The Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, will be very attractive to Japanese leisure travellers,” he said.
“Japan is a key market for Etihad and will be an important focus in 2010. We have worked closely with the Japanese Government to enable us to commence services between our two capital cities, and we thank them for their support.”
Etihad’s Tokyo services follow the commencement of the airline’s flights to Nagoya in February this year and code-share services with ANA this month.
Current trading relationships between UAE and Japan are strong, with trade between the countries reaching USD $29.21 billion (AED 107.2 billion) annually. Currently, there are approximately 350 Japanese companies operating and over 3,500 Japanese expatriates living in UAE.
Since its establishment in 2003, Etihad has expanded its network to over 60 destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Europe, North American and Asia. Etihad’s commitment to excellence in customer service resulted in the airline being awarded ‘World’s Leading Airline’ at the 2009 World Travel Awards. Etihad Airways has served over 22.5 million customers to date.