Etihad Airways has announced the start of flights to Nairobi, its first destination in East Africa. A daily service from Abu Dhabi to Nairobi will begin on 1st April 2012, operated by a two-class A320 aircraft with 16 Pearl Business Class and 120 Coral Economy Class seats.
Nairobi becomes the 72nd destination in Etihad’s global network and the return flights will create a new link between the two capital cities of Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.
“This new route will allow Etihad to tap into large traffic flows between East Africa, North Asia, and the Indian subcontinent,” said James Hogan, the airline’s Chief Executive. “Our strategy is to target areas of strong growth in emerging economies such as North, East and Central Africa and we have a number of other destinations under active consideration.
“Nairobi is an ideal addition to Etihad’s global footprint. There are 38,000 Kenyan nationals residing in the UAE and there are large and established point-to-point traffic flows between the two countries.
“Also, Abu Dhabi and Kenya have much in common economically. Both have 2030 plans in which tourism plays a vital role and the UAE is one of the largest exporters to the country.”
In 2010 more than two million tourists visited Kenya, including some 295,000 from the Middle East.
The new route will also service the considerable and growing flow of people and capital between Kenya and North Asia, with major Chinese investment in Africa generating passenger demand in both directions.
Stephen Gichuki, Managing Director of the Kenya Airports Authority, said: “Kenya Airports Authority has enjoyed a good relationship with Etihad Airways throughout its three years of operations to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, and I would like to congratulate the airline on the positive growth of its operations to Nairobi. We are confident that Etihad will continue to prosper serving this route.
“Our airport is currently undergoing an expansion and upgrading of its facilities, which includes the construction of a new terminal. This will have the capacity to handle 20 million passengers, and construction is expected to begin in January 2012.”
Etihad began dedicated cargo services to Nairobi in March 2009 and now operates five freighter flights with a total capacity of 340 tonnes each week. This will increase by 5% from 1st April.