Hainan Airlines has shifted its Gulf flight operations from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

The Skytrax five-star rated airline now operates its twice weekly Beijing to Luanda service via Etihad Airways’ hub in Abu Dhabi. The new services are timed to offer Hainan Airlines’ guests seamless connectivity from Beijing to Berlin and London Heathrow and from Cairo, the Maldives and Casablanca* to Beijing on the return.

The move to Abu Dhabi expands the scope of cooperation between the airline partners beyond the original agreement, signed in December 2011, to codeshare on flights and offer guests reciprocal frequent flyer program benefits.

Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, welcomed the Chinese carrier’s decision to move its operations to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

“When Etihad Airways signed its historic codeshare agreement with Hainan Airlines last year – its first ever with a Chinese airline – it marked the beginning of a new era of cooperation between the two airlines.

“The partnership has developed in a positive, mutually beneficial way and relocating Hainan’s Gulf operations to Abu Dhabi International Airport is a natural next step.

Mr Hogan noted that Hainan Airlines was the second airline partner from the Asia Pacific region to shift its Gulf operations to Abu Dhabi in recent times. Garuda Indonesia also consolidated its operations in Abu Dhabi from December 2. This followed the signing in October of a comprehensive codeshare agreement with the Indonesian carrier.

President of Hainan Airlines Mr Liu Lu said: “Our move to Abu Dhabi International Airport will optimize our Beijing to Luanda operation. A deeper partnership with Etihad Airways will also enable our customers to connect in Abu Dhabi to multiple destinations throughout the Middle East, Africa and Europe.”

Currently, Hainan Airlines places its ‘HU’ code on Etihad Airways-operated flights between Abu Dhabi and the UAE airline’s three gateway cities in China: Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai, and from Abu Dhabi to Khartoum International Airport in Sudan.