United Arabs Emirates (UAE) carrier, Etihad Airways’ inaugural flight to Kenya touched down in Nairobi on Sunday seeking to boost its revenue with Chinese investments in Africa.
Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan told journalists in Nairobi on Sunday that new daily, two-class A320 service is the airline’s first to East Africa and a critically important next step in expanding its presence in Africa.
He said the new route services 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.
“We expect to see strong loads to China, including our new destinations — Chengdu and Shanghai — and of course Beijing, though the schedule allows sub-four hour connectivity to key destinations across North Asia, South East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and Australia,” Hodan told a news conference in Nairobi.
The airline officials said they will also reach into West Africa with the introduction of flights to Nigeria in July 2012.
Etihad Airways also commenced operations to the Seychelles in November 2011 and Libya in January, building on existing services to Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Sudan.
Executives from the airline led by Chief Commercial Officer Peter Baumgartner will meet government officials and local tourism representatives during the visit to Kenya. The delegation will also host an evening reception to celebrate Etihad Airways’ new flights.
The A320 aircraft has 16 Pearl Business class and 120 Coral Economy class seats.
Etihad Airways began dedicated cargo services to Nairobi in March 2009 and will continue to operate five freight-only flights per week.
The combined capacity of passenger and cargo aircraft will allow the airline to transport 340 tonnes of cargo each week.