Etihad Airways is planning to launch non-stop daily flights to Washington, D.C., the airline’s fourth destination in North America, from 31 March 2013, subject to regulatory approvals.

The Washington region is home to America’s second largest market flying to the Middle East, after New York. Etihad Airways’ new service will link D.C. with Abu Dhabi, a vibrant and growing hub for business, culture and tourism.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “No other UAE carrier is offering non-stop services between D.C. and the UAE, so this capital-to-capital link is a huge opportunity for Etihad Airways.”

This increase represents the highest trade volume to date between the US and UAE. It also means that, for the third consecutive year, the UAE is the single largest export market for US goods in the Middle East. The US is the fifth largest trade partner worldwide for the UAE.

“The point-to-point traffic between D.C. and Abu Dhabi is expected to contribute significantly to overall loads on the route. The schedule also allows maximum connectivity to key markets in the GCC, Indian Subcontinent and South East Asia,” said Mr Hogan. “The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area ranks as one of the strongest-performing economies in the country. Demand for premium cabins from the market is significantly higher than from other potential US destinations, so we forecast that our award-winning Diamond First class and Pearl Business class will be very popular. A large and fast-growing population in the D.C. metro area, coupled with increasing ties to the UAE, means that the demand for travel across all cabins will only increase.”

In addition to strong economic ties between the US and UAE, the two countries also have significant mutual investment in educational, technological and cultural sectors.

In the Washington region alone, there are a number of organizations that have a strong business presence in the UAE, or deep relationships with UAE institutions. Among those companies are the Carlyle Group, Hilton International, Lockheed Martin and Children’s National Medical Center. Respected local think tanks and policy organizations, such as the Brookings Institution and the US Institute of Peace, are also working closely with their counterparts in the UAE.

The direct flights to Washington will be operated by a three class A340-500 aircraft. Each flight will offer 12 Diamond First class, 28 Pearl Business class and 200 Coral Economy seats, for a total 3,360 seats per week.