Things are looking up for both the airline and the future of two nations as the national carrier announces a direct link to the US capital.
New Etihad link to DC will help both economies grow
Etihad Airways' launch of non-stop service between Abu Dhabi and Washington, DC, beginning Sunday, marks the airline's newest stop on its rapid flight path towards becoming truly global.
With a growing fleet of world-class aircraft and personnel to match, Etihad Airways is embracing a corporate culture that values partnership as the cornerstone of its business development.
Accordingly, the airline is looking towards the United States as a leading destination for new routes to add to its global network, and now has selected Dulles International Airport, in Washington, as its newest aerial port of call in the country.
Since its founding in 2003, Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways has worked to build the corporate and physical infrastructure, in the UAE and abroad, that is necessary to deliver a premium travel product and to transport international passengers seamlessly.
The airline is transparently executing its growth strategy through the tactical cultivation of international strategic partnerships.
These accords are fuelling the airline's rapid expansion by providing the company with access to world-class aircraft, parts and a growing international customer base. Increasingly, these partnerships cover all sectors of the commercial aviation industry.
Under strong, industry-respected leadership, the airline has also assumed a key role as a facilitator of Abu Dhabi's economic development.
In fact, commercial aviation has emerged as a sector ripe for domestic capacity-building and is viewed by Abu Dhabi and the UAE more broadly, as a key to much-desired diversification away from an oil-centric economy.
Obviously, then, the growth and success of Etihad Airways is important to the successful development of the emirate's commercial aviation sector and is providing the chief impetus behind the UAE's national initiative to build local manufacturing and service capabilities.
More broadly, commercial aviation is a key element of the growing economic and trade relationship between the UAE and the US. Billions of dollars worth of commercial aircraft and parts are being delivered regularly to the Emirates.
This growing economic link has now been supported significantly by the launch of non-stop routes to several destinations in the US last year by both of the UAE's national carriers, Dubai's Emirates Airline and Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways.
In fact, a new study commissioned by the US-UAE Business Council found that the bilateral commercial aviation relationship has been the world's fastest growing over the past decade, at 1,500 per cent.
This monumental growth can be attributed directly to the successful expansion of non-stop travel options from the UAE to new US markets, along with the UAE's confidence in the quality and durability of American-made aerospace products and the UAE's commitment to the cultivation of a local aerospace industry destined to create and sustain jobs while serving initially the MENA region, and then the world.
From an even broader trade perspective, the UAE is the largest MENA destination for US exports, a position it has held since 2009.
According to US government statistics made public last month, the US and UAE shared a record $24.81 billion (Dh91 bn) in trade in 2012, an increase of over $6.47 billion when compared to 2011's total annual trade of $18.34 billion.
A key global consumer of American products and ingenuity, Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways is a natural candidate for increased entry into the US market. Its current fleet and impressive order ledger boasts a significant number of US-made and -engineered commercial aircraft.
Moreover, Etihad Airways's code sharing agreement with American Airlines, signed in 2009, clearly indicates the Abu Dhabi airline's confidence in the commercial viability of the US travel market.
More broadly, the expansion of Etihad's US network will directly support both Emirati and American jobs that span the entire commercial aviation supply chain and travel industry.
Indeed, Etihad's newest non-stop route promises to support a growing US-UAE economic relationship but also local economic activity in Abu Dhabi and in the Washington metropolitan area.
In due course, the new service will contribute to job creation and sustainability as well as delivering a new and diverse set of customers to shops, restaurants, museums, hotels, and other public and commercial establishments in both destinations.
For international business and recreational travellers living in or passing through both Abu Dhabi and the Washington, DC market, the new non-stop Etihad Airways service will provide an opportunity to travel expansively on an industry-leading airline.
Danny Sebright is president of the US-UAE Business Council and a counsellor at The Cohen Group in Washington, DC