On June 1, 2020, Etihad Airways Boeing 777 took off from the carrier’s hub in Abu Dhabi (UAE) carrying the flight EY8004. Some 15 hours later, the wide-body landed in Havana making history for the airline, as it was Etihad’s first-ever flight to Cuba. 

The long-haul journey between Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) and Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) was a goodwill flight chartered by the Government of the United Arab Emirates, the carrier’s statement revealed on June 5, 2020. The Boeing 777-300ER, registration number A6-ETG, was missioned to carry Cuban nationals back home from the UAE.

“All of us at Etihad feel a collective sense of pride, and humility, in the knowledge that we have been able to fully mobilize our resources at a time of great difficulty and suffering, to provide essential aerial lifelines to those in need,” Ahmed Al Qubaisi, Etihad Aviation Group Senior Vice President is quoted in the company’s statement as saying. “We have been able to move with agility and fly to territories never served by us prior to the current global lockdown, so we can aid in the repatriation of people.”

During the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemics, Etihad operated special flights to 32 cities that are not part of its usual passenger or cargo networks. These include Bogota, Bucharest, Grozny, Kyiv, Larnaca, Podgorica, Tirana, Yerevan, Zagreb, Auckland, Bhubaneswar, Bishkek, Dushanbe, Dhaka, Erbil, Kabul, Lucknow, Makhachkala, Addis Ababa, Antananarivo, Bamako, Banjul, Conakry, Freetown, Harare, Kinshasa, Moroni, N’Djamena, Niamey, and Nouakchott.