Abu Dhabi, UAE: Etihad Airways took to the skies with a spectacular fly-past today directly above Yas Marina Circuit to mark the start of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2023.
Etihad’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner passed over the track at an altitude of 600 ft, at precisely 16:44 and 55 seconds. The aircraft was followed by the UAE’s aerobatic stunt team, Al Fursan, with seven aircraft representing the seven emirates of the UAE. Al Fursan took a V formation shortly behind the Dreamliner, with coloured vapour trails in the red, green and black colours of the UAE flag.
This year’s fly-past is particularly special as coincides with the airline’s 20th anniversary. The flight was operated by four of Etihad’s most experienced pilots including Captain Driss Moussaoui who is also celebrating 20 years of flying for Etihad this month.
The Pilot in Command of the flight was Captain Abdullah Saleh, supported by Captain Mohammed al Tamimi in the right seat, both pilots celebrating 18 years of service with Etihad.
While Captain Driss oversaw communicating with both Air Traffic Control and the Al Fursan team, it was the responsibility of Captain Mimmo Catalano, who has been an Etihad pilot for 19 years, to control the precision timing of the aircraft crossing the starting grid. The timing must be accurate as the fly past takes place at the exact moment that the UAE’s national anthem finishes, just moments before the race begins.
Antonoaldo Neves, Etihad’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “This year, we’ve welcomed more international guests than ever before to this incredible event in Abu Dhabi. The fly past is a tradition enjoyed by fans on the ground and watched by millions around the world and is a spectacular opening to the race.
“This year’s race is particularly exciting as it coincides with Etihad celebrating 20 years of flying as well as the opening of our new home, Terminal A at Abu Dhabi International. Our talented pilots who operated today’s flight have clocked up almost twenty years of flying with Etihad each, representing the passion and dedication of our entire pilot community.”
As well as enjoying the action on the track, for the first year, Etihad Guest members with a Platinum tier status and Gold members with co-branded partner credit cards, were invited to enjoy the hospitality in the new and exclusive Etihad Guest Lounge located between Abu Dhabi Hill and the Main Grandstand.
International visitors to the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix were among the world’s first passengers arriving at the new Terminal A at Abu Dhabi International which opened earlier this month. As well as streamlined and biometric check-in services, the new Terminal offers dedicated Business and First class check-in areas with fast tracked access through security. Guests in premium cabins and select Etihad Guest members can also enjoy Etihad’s First and Business Class lounges which span three floors and offer dining and bar services, relaxation rooms, games rooms and more.