Etihad Airways said on Tuesday it will launch services to Chengdu in southwest China from December 15, subject to government approval.
Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province and the airline's 69th destination, will be connected to the airline's hub in Abu Dhabi by four non-stop return services per week.
CEO James Hogan said the airline's new Abu Dhabi-Chengdu service would provide the first ever flight link between the UAE and Sichuan province.
"This will further stimulate the growth of commerce and trade between the UAE and China, already the UAE's third largest trading partner," he said in a statement.
"It will also provide a new, more convenient gateway into southwest China for business and leisure travellers from Europe and the Middle East and a faster, new route to Europe and the Middle East for the rapidly growing Chinese outbound travel market."
He added: "With the purchasing power of the Chinese consumer rising in synch with annual GDP growth of 7.5 per cent to 2030, the Chinese travel market has enormous latent potential. The new service will position Etihad strongly to grow its services to daily and beyond."
While in Chengdu for the announcement, Hogan met municipal government and airport representatives and discussed opportunities for continuing business and cultural exchange between China and the UAE.
"We will continue to work together to strengthen ties between the UAE and China and help forge strong, new links between the communities at both ends of the route," Hogan said.
Li Wei, chairman of Sichuan Airport Group, said: "Etihad Airways is a reputable and well-established airline. We are glad to see Etihad starting a direct service from Chengdu to Abu Dhabi, and we look forward to having more airlines here."
Etihad will operate an Airbus A330-200 aircraft in a two-class configuration on the sector - offering 22 Pearl Business class and 240 Coral Economy class seats.