Speaking at the commissioning of the new Emirates office located in Nairobi’s Westlands suburb, Grillet noted that Kenya had done quite well since the airline began operations in the country some 17 years ago.
“Kenya is one of our key African markets which has done quite well since we began operation some 17 years ago, besides other countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. The demand has been increasing strongly, and Nairobi now brings to Emirates a sizeable slice of its earnings from the east African region in terms of both passenger and cargo business,” added Grillet.
The decision to enhance the Kenyan operation is a wider plan to improve its footprint in Africa, which has lately presented growth frontier for the airline.
“While many regions are experiencing challenging economic conditions, Africa – with a population in excess of one billion and rich in natural resources – is one of the few areas to record growth and the long-term outlook is very positive going by growth statistics coming from some countries like Ghana, Rwanda, Angola, Ethiopia among others. With some countries projecting GDP growth in excess of 10 pc this presents a real opportunity for us in terms of both passenger and cargo businesses,” said Grillet.
Grillet said that the airline had slowly built its presence on the continent since it launched flights to Cairo in 1986, adding that as Africa continues to realise its huge potential, Emirates has gone on to build its presence through additional frequencies to certain routes, enhanced capacity on some and opening of new routes.
Emirates Vice President for East Africa Khalid Bel Jaflah said the new office would give customers in Nairobi an easier and more convenient way to make their travel arrangements, as Emirates seeks to offer more value and convenience.
“At Emirates, we continually look for new ways to improve the service we provide to our customers. Our customers in Westland and the surrounding areas will find a convenient way for ticketing and reservations services, confirmation of bookings, rerouting and a chance to plan trips in a more convenient way, whether for business or leisure,” said Jaflah.
He noted that Emirates’ success in the Kenyan market had been due to the airline’s ability to provide excellent in-flight service and entertainment and its focus on developing innovative ways to improve customer comfort and convenience.
Kenya Airport Authority Deputy MD, Mathew Wamalwa who presided over the opening of the new office said the authority recognises the immense contribution by Emirates in the development of the aviation sector in the country since it began operations in Kenya, adding that KAA was in the process of expanding facilities at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to meet the international aviation standards.
“Kenya Airport Authority is in the process of constructing Greenfield Terminal which will increase JKIA’s annual handling capacity by 20 million passengers. The proposed project will increase design capacity and at the same time provide improved security that comply with International Civil Aviation Authority ICAO) standards,” said Wamalwa.
Emirates established operations in Kenya in 1995, and employs more than 1,000 Kenyans both in Kenya and across the Emirates Group. The airline flies twice daily from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Dubai, connecting passengers to 126 destinations in 74 countries across six continents.
Currently, the Nairobi-Dubai route is operated by a combination of Airbus 340-500 and Boeing 777-300 ER, offering daily seat capacity of about 560. In addition to under-belly cargo capacity, Emirates offers on passenger planes, the airlines also operates dedicated cargo service out of Nairobi.