The announcement follows the signing of a codeshare agreement between the two airlines. Subject to regulatory approvals, ''airBaltic'' will operate the new four weekly return flights using a 116 seat ''Airbus A319'' aircraft.
“The trade, cultural and leisure ties between the UAE and Latvia have never been stronger and this new direct flight marks the start of our codeshare partnership with ''airBaltic'' and the linking of the capital cities of both countries by air for the very first time. It is also the first time we are able to offer Riga as an ''Etihad Airways'' codeshare destination,'' said James Hogan, ''Etihad Airways'' president and chief executive officer
Hogan also pointed out that the new route will be of huge benefit to Latvian travelers visiting Abu Dhabi for business or leisure, in addition to offering seamless connections over the Abu Dhabi hub to destinations across the globe. ''In tandem, it will allow ''Etihad Airways'' to offer destinations flown by ''airBaltic'' beyond its Riga hub, particularly in northern and eastern Europe,'' he said.
The UAE is one of Latvia’s main trading partners in the Gulf region. In 2012, Latvia’s exports to the UAE reached EUR 72 million, 102 percent up on 2011, and imports from the UAE to Latvia amounted to EUR 4.1 million, up 44 percent on 2011.
“We are delighted to link Latvia and the UAE, and improve our service to the customer by substantially reducing the travel time between the two capitals and, to destinations beyond. Our code-share and interline cooperation will offer convenient connections to passengers travelling via Abu Dhabi to and from key destinations in Australia, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East,'' said Martin Gauss, chief executive officer of ''airBaltic''.
''Etihad Airways'' will place its ‘EY’ flight code on the new Riga flights, and subject to government approvals, beyond to 19 cities including: Billund, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Helsinki, Lappeenranta, Turku, Hamburg, Alesund, Bergen, Oslo, Stavanger, Vilnius, Warsaw, Stockholm, Kiev, Vienna, Prague, Barcelona and Istanbul.
In return, ''airBaltic'' will place its ‘BT’ flight code on ''Etihad Airways'' flights beyond Abu Dhabi to Cairo, Jakarta, Singapore, Bangkok, Amman and Muscat, subject to government approvals.
''airBaltic'' currently serves 60 destinations from its home base in Riga.
"airBaltic" was established in 1995, the state of Latvia is currently the key shareholder with a 99.8 percent stake.