Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has launched flights to Istanbul, the commercial capital of Turkey.
The inaugural flight EY097 departed from Abu Dhabi airport on schedule at 9.15am yesterday and landed in Istanbul at 12.50pm, the same day.
To mark this weekend's Formula 1TM ING Turkish Grand Prix, and the inaugural Formula 1TM Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which takes place on 1 November, Etihad operated its iconic Formula 1TM liveried A320 aircraft on the maiden flight to Istanbul.
A high level Turkish delegation met the plane as it arrived at the Istanbul Ataturk airport which included UAE Ambassador to Turkey, H.E. Khalid Khalifa Al Mualla; Istanbul Ataturk airport chief, Mehmet Ali Ulutaş and Turkish Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, İsmet Yılmaz.
The group then welcomed the Etihad delegation which included Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways' chief commercial officer, and Turkish Ambassador to UAE, H.E. Hakkı Akil.
Peter Baumgartner said: "We are delighted to launch flights from Abu Dhabi to Istanbul, where we have received such a warm welcome. Not only will the route provide a boost to tourism in the UAE and Turkey, but it will also support the growing commercial ties between the two countries."
Turkey is one of the UAE's largest trade partners, with USD $9 billion in annual bilateral trade volume generating strong economic relations and sound business opportunities for both countries.
Last year saw foreign trade figures reveal Turkey as one of the UAE's top 10 biggest suppliers, while over the past five years (2004-2008the UAE's exports to Turkey have increased six-fold.
The new route has not only be welcomed by the 6,000 Turkish expatriates currently living and working in the UAE, but will also provide convenient onward connections to some of the well-established Turkish communities served by Etihad's global network - in particular, Sydney and Melbourne.
Etihad operates a two-class Airbus A320 to Istanbul, configured to carry 140 passengers with 20 seats in business class and 120 in economy class