The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, in partnership with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the San Francisco Center for Economic Development, hosted San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee and Etihad Airways President & CEO James Hogan for lunch on Tuesday to celebrate the launch of non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
The luncheon discussion held at the Ritz-Carlton and moderated by U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council President Danny Sebright, featured welcome remarks by U.A.E. Consul General in Los Angeles His Excellency Abdulla Alsaboosi. Consul General Alsaboosi was joined at the event by senior stakeholders from the Bay Area and broader U.S.-U.A.E. business community.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, James Hogan, said, “I am very pleased to be in San Francisco today, and to reflect on the importance of the new route between San Francisco and Abu Dhabi. As the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Airways is proud to connect these two extraordinary, international cities and support the strengthening of an already important business and cultural relationship.”
Following introductory remarks by Sebright and officials from the SF Chamber and SFCED, Consul General Alsaboosi took the stand to emphasize the importance of Etihad Airways’ entry into the Bay Area market. In doing so, Alsaboosi highlighted the U.A.E.’s efforts to build relationships with innovators and entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley community and replicate best practices in the Emirates. Alsaboosi stressed that the launch of a new non-stop route between the U.A.E. and U.S. encompasses every pillar of the overall relationship between the two countries, from diplomatic to economic to social.
“The U.A.E. and U.S. are united by a shared vision to cultivate economic growth and opportunity in both of our countries. Support from the U.S. aerospace sector is helping the U.A.E. become a global commercial aviation hub, is driving increased bilateral trade, and sustaining thousands of jobs around the country. The new Etihad flight between Abu Dhabi and San Francisco underscores this important partnership,” said Consul General H.E. Alsaboosi.
Mayor Lee echoed Consul General Alsaboosi’s sentiments about the socioeconomic potential delivered with each new link between communities and officially welcomed Etihad Airways to San Francisco. In his comments, Mayor Lee pointed to the global reach of the city’s business community and the significance of increased ties with the U.A.E. He highlighted existing partnerships between American and Emirati institutions and businesses while underscoring San Francisco’s eagerness to create more opportunities for collaboration.
“This new nonstop flight not only provides a direct route between the San Francisco Bay Area and the United Arab Emirates, but better connects Etihad’s global network throughout the region, including India and Africa. The Etihad flight is a valuable bridge linking our two regions and our residents, and we are truly confident in its success,” said Mayor Ed Lee.
After a short video presentation about Etihad, Hogan took the podium to deliver hiskeynote address. During his speech, Hogan highlighted the role commercial aviation plays in strengthening U.S.-U.A.E. trade and community relations, with a special focus on California. He pointed to the international significance of the Bay Area’s extensive knowledge-based economy and the U.A.E.’s keenness to cultivate innovation. Hogan concluded by ensuring the audience of government officials and business executives that the U.S. remains a key element of Etihad Airways’ growth strategy, emphasizing the airline’s commitment to creating American and Emirati jobs.
“The U.S. is the largest aviation market in the world and we are committed to expanding our network to bring choice and unparalleled service to travelers, while at thesame time investing in the know-how of U.S. businesses,” Mr. Hogan said. “Etihad Airways operates between Abu Dhabi and six destinations in the U.S. with 45 passenger flights per week. The services from the U.S. into Abu Dhabi connect with flights across the strategically important and growing Gulf Cooperation Council region, Middle East, Africa, and the Indian Subcontinent, supporting trade and tourism.
“U.S. know-how is key to Etihad Airways and over the past 10 years, the airline has been ordering Boeing aircraft with American-made GE engines and working with other U.S. suppliers. Together this is supporting more than 200,000 American jobs. Our commitment to the U.S. is strong and our vision long term. We are here to stay and play a pivotal role in growing the aviation sector,” Mr. Hogan added.
Sebrightwrapped the program with a question and answer session, extending an invitation to the audience to engage speakers directly. Topics covered during the Q&A included: Etihad Airways’ expansion plans in the U.S., the economic impact of increased San Francisco-U.A.E. commercial partnerships, challenges and opportunities for doing business in the U.A.E., and the role of innovation in the U.S.-U.A.E. commercial aviation relationship. Sebright concluded the luncheon by thanking honored speakers and the business community for joining the discussion.
“Commercial aviation plays a key role in connecting people, boosting trade, and strengthening cultural ties between the United States and United Arab Emirates,” said Sebright.
“The launch of Etihad Airways’ direct flights to San Francisco opens the door wider for interaction between two vibrant global communities.”
“San Francisco business is truly excited about the launch of Etihad Airways fromSFO. More than 1,000 American companies are operating in the U.A.E. and with San Francisco’s massive growth in technology, engineering, and infrastructure firms, we expect this new service will be a welcome addition to our global travel portfolio,” said San Francisco Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bob Linscheid.
“International air service from SFO is San Francisco’s bridge to the world, and a key driver in our region’s economic success,” said San Francisco Center for Economic Development Executive Director Dennis Conaghan. “The addition of this new direct flight reinforces the existing business partnerships between the U.A.E. and the Bay Area, while setting the stage for even more business, cultural, and tourism exchange.”
On Tuesday evening, Etihad Airways will host a gala dinner to celebrate the launch of AUH-SFO non-stop flights on November 18th featuring a roster of prominent community leaders and a special musical guest. Please visit www.etihad.com for more information.