Etihad Airways and China Eastern Airlines have signed a joint-venture agreement – the first between Middle Eastern and Chinese carriers – which will see both operators coordinate their schedules on parts of their networks. 

The joint venture allows both carriers to “jointly develop and grow the routes between the United Arab Emirates and China”. China Eastern and Etihad expect to secure regulatory clearance by early 2025, where they will then implement the agreement. 


Source: Etihad Airways

The announcement builds on a December 2023 memorandum of understanding, covering a potential strategic partnership in commercial and operational areas. 

Etihad currently flies from its Abu Dhabi hub to Beijing’s Daxing airport and Shanghai – both of which are China Eastern operating hubs. However, SkyTeam member China Eastern does not operate to Abu Dhabi. 

Both carriers state that the joint venture will allow for “seamless travel experiences” for travel between China and the UAE, and wider Middle East and Africa regions, adding: “Additionally, both airlines will introduce full reciprocity to their existing frequent flyer programmes in the final quarter of 2024, allowing passengers to seamlessly earn points and redeem rewards when flying with either airline.” 

China Eastern chair Wang Zhiqing says: “Both China Eastern Airlines and Etihad Airways have strong global hubs, and our co-operation is highly complementary, covers a broad scope, and has great potential.

”The signing of this [joint venture] signifies a new level of collaboration, and China Eastern is eager to work with Etihad Airways to expand the co-operation in the various business areas, and thereby enhance the strategic partnership between both airlines.” 

Separately, Etihad has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Egyptair to explore deepening their codeshare and frequent flyer collaboration. 

Both carriers currently codeshare on each other’s networks, covering flights between Egypt and the UAE, as well from Cairo into Africa and from Abu Dhabi into Asia.