Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on Tuesday their plans to start scheduling flights to Nairobi, its first destination in East Africa later this April.
Etihad’s daily passenger service from Abu Dhabi to Nairobi will touchdown at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Sunday, April 1 this year, operated by two class A320 aircraft with 16 Pearl Business class and 120 Coral Economy seats.
Speaking when he confirmed the new route, Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer James Hogan, noted that Nairobi now 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.
Hogan went on to add: “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,” Hogan noted.
In 2010 more than two million tourists visited Kenya, including some 295,000 from the Middle East. This 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.
While welcoming Etihad’s passenger services foray into East Africa, Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director Eng. Stephen Gichuki reiterated that expansion and upgrade works at JKIA including the construction of a new terminal now are currently underway.
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