One of the world's fastest growing airlines, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, will start a new daily service to Perth on July 15, opening up many new one-stop destinations.
The airline, which already operates in the Eastern States, will use 262-seat Airbus A330-200 planes for the new service, with 22 seats in business class and 240 in economy class.
Etihad Airways president and chief executive James Hogan said the new flights would be the first non-stop services between WA and Abu Dhabi. "Our analysis shows there is a significant business opportunity on the Perth route," Mr Hogan said.
"Overseas visitor numbers are growing at a steady rate of around 7 per cent overall - with several markets to which we fly, such as Germany, France, Italy and Ireland, recording an increase in visitor numbers of between 8.5 per cent and approximately 30 per cent in 2012-13.
"Significantly, arrivals from the Middle East grew at more than 104 per cent over the same period." Mr Hogan said that "West Australians, too, are travelling overseas in increasingly large numbers, with an average annual growth rate of 8.5 per cent over the past three years".
The Etihad service will code- share with Virgin Australia.
"Our partnership with Virgin Australia and codeshare flights to 14 towns and cities in its Western Australia regional network adds immensely to the strength of the business case for the route and the appeal of our consumer offering," Mr Hogan said.
"From day one, travellers throughout WA will be able to connect seamlessly in Perth to our international flights. Likewise, international travellers will have the opportunity to explore the State's abundant visitor attractions and diverse landscapes."
Mr Hogan also noted a significant new opportunity for revenue growth from the business travel segment and from freight.
"Eighty of the top 300 Australian companies have their headquarters in Perth and many of these have commercial interests in Africa and the Middle East," he said.
"Equally, many United Arab Emirates businesses have a strong presence in Australia, particularly in the agribusiness, resources and tourism sectors."
The new Perth flight arrives at 1.10pm and departs at 3.55pm for Abu Dhabi. Etihad began operations in 2003, and last year it carried 10.3 million passengers.