Etihad Airways, United Arab Emirates flag carrier has unveiled plans to fly to Brazil, the airline’s first South American destination. The daily Sao Paulo flights, which are expected to start in June 2013, will be the first direct air link between Abu Dhabi and any South American country.
This will mean Etihad Airways serves all of the BRIC high growth nations. The BRIC group is made up of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Brazil is also the leading member of Mercosur, together with Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
“Brazil is a logical next step for us and will mark the sixth continent we serve and our coming of age as a truly global airline,” James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said.
“Business and tourism flows between the United Arab Emirates and Brazil have been growing and will be strengthened by our daily direct flights between Abu Dhabi and Sao Paulo.”
Brazil is the world’s sixth largest economy, having overtaken the UK in 2011. It is the largest country in South America and has the biggest population, at almost 200 million. Its trade and tourism will be boosted by its hosting of both the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.
Brazil’s Minister of Tourism, Mr Gastão Dias Vieira, said: “These direct flights by Etihad Airways provides yet another link for our people, cultures and business. Brazil and the UAE share a positive relationship halfway across the globe, marked by an open political dialogue, thriving trade and investments, and an increasing number of travellers. Even before the inaugural flight, our country has already been part of Etihad’s success story, as many Brazilian pilots and flight attendants have joined the company over the years.”
More than 50 Brazilian nationals work for Etihad Airways, including 18 pilots and 27 cabin crew. All are based in the UAE.
Brazil is currently the UAE fourth largest trading partner with bi-lateral trade between the two countries valued at 2.85 billion dollars. Authorities hope to lift this to 10 billion within five years.
There are 25 major Brazilian companies with offices in Abu Dhabi, and the UAE buys sugar, soy-beans, meat, aircraft, heavy oils, tractors and construction vehicles from the South American country.
Exports from the UAE to Brazil include oil rigs, aviation fuel, steel, aluminium goods and plastics.
The flights are scheduled to begin on 1 June 2013 operated by a three class A340-600 aircraft, offering 12 Diamond First class, 32 Pearl Business class and 248 Coral Economy seats - a total 2,044 seats per week.
“Brazil is an exciting new destination for Etihad travellers. As the host to both the 2014 FIFA Football World Cup and 2016 Olympics, Brazil boasts opportunities for leisure and business. Beaches with world-class resorts, thrilling eco-adventure destinations or cities with a bustling nightlife cater to all preferences of tourist travellers”, said Vieira.
“At the same time, Brazil is one of the fastest growing economies of the world and offers a wide array of opportunities for trade and investment. São Paulo is a vibrant city and a preferred business destination in Latin America. As the first Etihad destination in the region, it is also a gateway for neighbouring Mercosur countries”.