Etihad Airways unveils Special Olympics World Games livery on Boeing 787

The images of four UAE athletes have been emblazoned on the side of the plane ahead of the event in Abu Dhabi

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For four UAE athletes competing in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, there will be a sky high legacy of their participation in the event long after it has finished.

Etihad Airways has unveiled a new livery on one of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft in celebration of Abu Dhabi's national heroes ahead of the games, which begin on March 14.

The design of the livery features images of swimmer Omar Al Shami, runner Hamda Alhosani and bowlers Saleh Almarri and Mariam Al Hosani.

The branded aircraft is scheduled to fly to Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Brisbane, Jeddah, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester, Riyadh, Shanghai, Tokyo and Zurich, among other cities, in the coming months.

"This aircraft will continue to fly long after the games and is just one of the ways the legacy will live on," said Robin Kamark, Etihad's chief commercial officer.

"It is our hope that as this aircraft travels the globe, it will convey a message of hope and inclusion, recognising the UAE’s Year of Tolerance.”

The Adnoc corporate logo will also feature on the engines of the branded aircraft, as the presenting partner of the games, which will bring together 7,500 athletes and 3,000 coaches, representing more than 190 nations.

The same aircraft will fly the World Games Flame of Hope from Athens to Abu Dhabi before reaching all seven emirates over 10 days before the start of the event.

Etihad, meanwhile, has been involved in a number of other initiatives connected to the event.

It has launched its own employee volunteer programme, whereby staff will continue to receive their full salary for up to five days out of the office while volunteering at the games.

It has also urged its frequent flyers to donate their air miles to support athletes taking part to help pay for accommodation, food and transport. The cost to fund a single athlete's participation in the event is understood to be in the region of Dh25,000.

The Boeing 787-9 with its special livery. Courtesy Etihad

Etihad has provided staff with specialist training for months to ensure they are prepared to assist athletes, their families and supporters throughout their journeys to and from Abu Dhabi.

UAE airlines have been frequent users of special liveries in recent years.

Year of Zayed livery was displayed on both Emirates and Etihad aircraft, while football has been a regular theme due to Emirates sponsorship deals with a host of top European clubs, including Real Madrid and AC Milan.

The Dubai airline also became the title sponsor for the FA Cup – the world's oldest football cup competition – and subsequently rolled out a dedicated A380 livery.

In 2015, Emirates took the fight against illegal wildlife trade to the skies by unveiling two of its A380 jets dressed in livery depicting threatened animals.

Etihad also emblazoned planes with a special branded livery to tie in with China's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in 2017.