Etihad Airways is broadening its global reach having signed two new deals with Chinese and Moroccan airlines.

The Abu Dhabi airline announced the joint venture (JV) with China Eastern Airlines yesterday, Wednesday, the first commercial JV to be signed between a Chinese and a Middle Eastern airline.

The latest agreement comes just two days after Etihad signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Royal Air Maroc to broaden its reach into North Africa.

Following the signing of the JV, Etihad and China Eastern will work to develop and grow routes between the UAE and China to create a stronger combined network from early 2025, once all regulatory clearances have been secured.

Both airlines are also introducing full reciprocity to their existing frequent flyer programmes in the final quarter of 2024.

Etihad Airways chief executive Antonoaldo Neves said: “This JV marks a significant milestone in our partnership with China Eastern. The JV will allow Etihad and China Eastern to offer travellers 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.”

Etihad Aviation Group chairman Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa added: “We look forward to welcoming a greater number of Chinese tourists to explore the rich cultural heritage and vibrant experiences that the UAE has to offer.”

China Eastern Airlines Chairman Wang Zhiqing 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.

“Both China Eastern Airlines and Etihad Airways have strong global hubs, and our cooperation is highly complementary, covers a broad scope, and has great potential.”

The JV comes just two days after Etihad signed the MoU with Morocco’s national carrier, Royal Air Maroc, kick-starting a process of cooperation between the two airlines that should deliver better services for customers in both regions.

The agreement reflects a dedication to exploring enhanced cooperation, aiming to offer travellers expanded choices, superior services, and added value, all while fostering sustainable aviation.

Neves said: “This agreement covers a broad range of activities from exploring the expansion of existing codeshare arrangements to cover more domestic routes in Morocco and Africa, to looking at developing existing frequent flyer programme co-operation, and exploring collaborations on ground handling, maintenance and engineering.”

Royal Air Maroc chairman and chief executive Abdelhamid Addou added: “We are very proud to establish this important partnership with Etihad Airways, which aligns with our ambition to further enhance our connectivity and continue offering our passengers a more optimised and seamless travel experience through our respective hubs.”

The existing codeshare agreement gives customers of both airlines enhanced connectivity to destinations across each other’s networks, between Morocco and the UAE as well, beyond Casablanca into Africa and beyond Abu Dhabi.

The agreement enables guests to book their entire journey on a single ticket and have their baggage checked through seamlessly to their end destination.Subscribe to the FINN weekly newsletter

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