Phuket will be its second destination in Thailand after Bangkok to be served by the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Qatar Airways phased in Phuket on Oct 12, 2012 to its growing network with a daily flight via Kuala Lumpur, which is connected with its Doha base. Emirates started a non-stop daily flight between Dubai and Phuket in December 2012.
Bangkok-Abu Dhabi ranked as Etihad's most popular route for the past four years, with 742,759 passengers flown in 2013 alone.
Phuket will be the seventh city in Southeast Asia served by the airline, along with Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta.
Etihad said growing traffic demand to the island, a popular destination for holidays and retirement, is the reason for its launch.
The airline will operate an Airbus 330-200 jet, configured with 22 seats in business and 240 in economy, on the route.
Phuket is the ninth route set to open for Etihad this year, with the others Medina (Saudi Arabia), Jaipur, Los Angeles, Zurich, Yerevan (Armenia), Rome, Perth and Dallas.