Etihad Airways and China Southern Airlines to expand codeshares with new initial pact

Agreement includes plans for joint procurement in ground handling, cargo, bonded warehousing, catering and maintenance

Etihad flights between Abu Dhabi and Beijing Daxing International Airport,  the city's biggest, began on March 29. Photo: Etihad Airways
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Etihad Airways and Asia's biggest carrier China Southern Airlines have signed a preliminary pact to expand their flight codeshare agreement that will allow both partners to offer more destinations to their passengers.

Under the agreement, the two airlines are planning joint procurement in the areas of ground handling, cargo handling, bonded warehousing, catering and maintenance in either Guangzhou, Beijing or Abu Dhabi, Etihad said on Thursday.

It follows Etihad’s move this week to Beijing Daxing International Airport, which is also China Southern Airlines' hub. In October last year, Etihad also began flights to Guangzhou Baiyuan International Airport, China Southern’s other hub.

The partners will “explore comprehensive and pragmatic ways in which the two carriers can work more closely together, to drive greater value through our unique strengths at Beijing Daxing International Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and further extend the reach of our joint network”, said Arik De, chief revenue officer of Etihad Airways.

“Advanced co-operation between the two airlines sends a very strong signal to the industry and brings further hope of recovery for the global aviation and travel markets.”

Etihad Airways has been gradually increasing frequencies on routes serving China from Abu Dhabi as demand for travel to and from the Asian country grows.

The UAE expects a greater influx of Chinese tourists within the next six to 12 months, after the Asian country loosened Covid-related travel restrictions in January, a senior official said this month.

The number of visitors from China to the UAE could return to pre-pandemic levels by the next Chinese New Year next February, Helal Al Marri, director general of Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism, said.

“The Chinese have started coming back. We see them now in many exhibitions and conferences and the lanes have opened up again,” he said, referring to a growing number of daily flights between the two countries.

Etihad commenced flights between Abu Dhabi and Beijing Daxing International Airport on Wednesday, moving from Beijing Capital International Airport to the city's biggest hub.

This year also marks the 15th anniversary of Etihad's services to China, as well as its Abu Dhabi-Beijing route.

“The signing of the [preliminary agreement] opens a new chapter of win-win co-operation between the two carriers, which will further strengthen our unique advantages in the hub of Beijing Daxing International Airport, expand our global network and bring more convenience to passengers,” said Zhang Dongsheng, deputy director general of the commercial steering committee of China Southern Airlines.

“China Southern Airlines and Etihad have maintained a good partnership throughout the pandemic and will continue to deepen co-operation and explore more possibilities in the future.”

Updated: March 30, 2023, 1:19 PM