Etihad Airways and Spanish airline Air Europa have signed a codeshare agreement which will enhance access to and from Spain, the United Arab Emirates and other international destinations.
As part of the agreement, which is subject to regulatory approvals, Air Europa will launch a thrice weekly direct service between Madrid and Abu Dhabi in late 2014.
Etihad will place its EY flight code on the A330-operated flights, offering direct access to Madrid for the first time through its global Abu Dhabi hub.
Ahead of the route launch, Etihad's code will be on Air Europa-operated flights to Madrid from Amsterdam, Brussels and Milan Malpensa and beyond Madrid to Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca.
In return, Air Europa will place its UX flight code on Etihad flights from Amsterdam, Brussels and Milan Malpensa to Abu Dhabi.
During the summer, both airlines plan to expand the number of codeshare destinations to include new cities in Spain and South America via Madrid, and more cities beyond Abu Dhabi across the Gulf region, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
James Hogan, Etihad's president and CEO, said: "The fact that Air Europa has chosen Abu Dhabi for the next wave of its international expansion, speaks volumes of what the emirate and our global hub have to offer.
"We have been keen to offer our customers direct access to the Spanish capital for a number of years, and doing this now in partnership with Air Europa makes perfect business sense. It is the right thing to do.
"The new route will support the growing trade volumes between the UAE and Spain, up 75 per cent over the last three years, introduce more Spanish business and leisure travellers to the world class city that is Abu Dhabi, not to mention, make access to Abu Dhabi, Madrid and numerous destinations across our combined networks easier than ever."
Juan Jose Hidalgo, Air Europa's president and CEO, added: "We have chosen Abu Dhabi and Etihad Airways as the gateway to India, China, Australia and other destinations served in the Far East.
"As one of the most important operators to the American continent, especially Central and South America via our hub in Madrid, for Air Europa the agreement between the two airlines is a step forward in a global market.
"Both airlines will provide an excellent link between America and Asia via Madrid and Abu Dhabi."