The airline will fly chefs and food journalists to Melbourne. The airline will fly chefs and food journalists to Melbourne.

Etihad Airways has signed an agreement with Tourism Australia to be the official airline partner of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards in 2017.

The airline will fly chefs and food journalists to Australia for the programme.

The events, taking place in Melbourne from April 1-7 next year, will showcase Australia’s food and wine to an audience of industry professionals and food fans, including chefs, restaurateurs and sommeliers.

Etihad Airways’ chief executive officer Peter Baumgartner said: “Australia is world-renowned for the exceptional quality of its food and wine offering and the diversity of its culinary experiences. Bringing the world’s culinary elite to Australia next year to experience its food and wine culture first-hand will further enhance Australia’s reputation as one of the world’s best holiday destinations.

“It will also enable us to showcase our own food philosophy and hospitality offering to some of the biggest names in food and wine in the world today. The culinary inspiration we draw from The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards will bring us another step closer to our goal of being the best restaurant in the sky.”

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Tourism Australia managing director John O'Sullivan added: "Etihad Airways has gained an enviable reputation within the airline industry for the quality of the dining experience it offers its passengers, both in the air and on the ground. They have truly embraced our Restaurant Australia campaign and are a natural choice as airline partner for a culinary event of this stature."

Etihad Airways also has a partnership with Taste Festivals Limited, the organisers of food and drinks events worldwide, which complements its new association with The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the airline said in a statement.