FOR the first time, Etihad Airways has introduced its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to China, with the new Abu Dhabi-Shanghai route having marked its first flight on August 2.
The new Dreamliner features the airline’s next-generation business and economy class cabins, and will operate with 299 seats – 28 in business class and 271 in economy – representing a 14 per cent capacity increase on the route.
The business class cabins feature a fully-flat bed of up to 80.5 inches long, as well as an increase of 20 percent in personal space. Seats are made with Poltrona Frau leather, and are equipped with in-seat massage and pneumatic cushion control system that allows passengers to adjust the firmness of their seats.
Plus, business travelers get an 18-inch personal touch screen TV, noise-cancelling headsets, mobile connectivity, on-board WiFi, and seven satellite channels of live TV. They also have access to a dedicated food and beverage manager, and the Flying Nannies service that provides assistance to parents traveling with young children.
Peter Baumgartner, chief executive officer of Etihad Airways, said: “Since launching flights between Shanghai and Abu Dhabi four years ago, we have experienced first-hand the huge growth of China’s outbound tourism market and enjoyed strong demand from both business and leisure travelers.”
The upgrade to the Dreamliner is a result of increased demand for business travel in China. According to a report by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), China edged the US at the end of 2015 by a US$1 billion, finishing the year with US$291.2 billion in travel spending.
“Despite a relative slowdown, China’s business travel market remains one of the fastest growing in the world,” said Michael W. McCormick, executive director of GBTA. He added that the findings indicate the global nature of today’s economy.