Etihad Airways flies Special Olympics Team USA to the World Games Abu Dhabi 2019

09 March 2019, 12:00 AM

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Etihad Airways, official airline partner of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, flew in 350 Team USA athletes, coaches and support crew ahead of the Games taking place in the UAE’s capital next week. The athletes travelled from John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, to Abu Dhabi International Airport on an award-winning Etihad Airways Airbus A380.

  • Team USA is the largest team to fly to the Games on a single aircraft, flying on an Etihad Airways Airbus A380
  • Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will take place from 14 to 21 March

The athletes received a celebratory farewell at JFK International Airport which was attended by three WWE superstars Mojo Rawley, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.

In celebration of the Games, the Etihad Airways aircraft was decorated with specially branded headrests. Additionally, in the run up to the Games, Etihad Airways Cabin Crew have received an innovative e-learning training programme designed in conjunction with Special Olympics. Recognising that each and every individual is different and their needs may vary, the online module offers general guidelines on engaging with people of determination with compassion, respect and tolerance.

Tony Douglas, Etihad Aviation Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “As the official airline partner of the games, the greatest reward for Etihad, and for all of us who call the UAE home, is without doubt the opportunity to play our part in supporting and celebrating athletes of determination, and to showcase Abu Dhabi as a forward-thinking and multicultural centre of tolerance, faith and inclusion. We wish Team USA and all competing athletes every success.”

Friday 8 March was one of the busiest days on record for arriving passengers in the history of Abu Dhabi International Airport. Special Olympic teams have arrived from all corners of the world over the last few days, in preparation for their participation in the games, including from Australia, Botswana, Great Britain, Netherlands, Pakistan, Switzerland and many more

Taking place in the Middle East and North Africa region for the first time, this year’s Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 are expected to attract up to 500,000 spectators and will be the largest global event ever to be held in the UAE.

Bringing together more than 7,500 athletes from over 190 nations, Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 is the largest sports and humanitarian event on the planet this year.

Etihad Airways will ferry athletes, equipment, coaches, dignitaries, and media to Abu Dhabi from all over the world for the event. The athletes will be accompanied by 2,500 coaches and delegates.

The Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 will take place between 14– 21 March and you can find further information here: