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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Etihad planes model new livery to promote Chinese shopping festival

Five aircraft will be decorated with the Alibaba branding for a month

An Etihad plane stands on the runway with the new livery. Photo: Etihad Airways
An Etihad plane stands on the runway with the new livery. Photo: Etihad Airways

Five Etihad Airways planes will take off from Abu Dhabi International Airport today emblazoned with a special branded livery to tie in with China's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival 2017, the carrier said on Friday.

The decorated planes will feature the branding for Alibaba Group's shopping event for the next month as the UAE looks to promote closer trade ties with China and raise Abu Dhabi’s profile in the country. China is the UAE’s second largest trading partner.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Etihad Airways executive vice president – commercial, said Alibaba is “a very important partner” for Etihad.

“We continuously research and deliver services to meet our Chinese customers’ needs and strive for improvement in all areas of our operation. China is an important growth market and we need to follow the market trends,” he added.

The five aircraft jetting off today will head to four destinations in Greater China - Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Hong Kong – before carrying the livery to over 40 cities across Etihad Airways' global network over the next month.

The decorated planes include two Boeing 787 Dreamliners. two Airbus A330 aircraft and one Airbus A380 aircraft, featuring the airline’s First Apartments and The Residence cabins.

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China has over 721 million internet users and the eCommerce industry in China has grown continuously over the past decade, Etihad said. Over 140,000 brands will take part in Alibaba's shopping promotions this year in more than 15 million product listings, according to the eCommerce giant.

Bilateral trade between the UAE and China stood at $45 billion last year as Chinese companies have turned their attention towards secure and stable countries in the Middle East in recent times such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Tourism has also sharply grown between the two countries. Last year, around 600,000 Chinese tourists visited the UAE, according to the country’s consul general in Dubai, Li Lingbing, with around 40,000 tourists from the UAE visiting China.