, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 10 – The Government of Kenya is leveraging on the introduction of direct flights between Nairobi and Abu Dhabi to boost trade between Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, Michael Kamau said the move, which follows the signing of a codeshare agreement between national carrier Kenya Airways and Etihad Airways, will not only favour Kenyan businessmen sourcing for goods in the UAE, but also open doors for tourists wishing to travel to Kenya and the rest of the continent through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
“We are currently at an advanced stage of modernising and expanding the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which will significantly boost the capacity to handle more travellers. As you know the airport is already a regional hub through which Kenya Airways is able to connect the world to Africa and vice versa,” he noted during a dinner hosted for customers in Abu Dhabi last week.
“As part of the Vision 2030, we are also constructing the Green Field Terminal, a new state-of-the-art terminal which will be delinked from the current Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and will be built from scratch. When complete, the new terminal will be the largest single terminal in Africa built on four levels and will be able to handle up to 20 million passengers, annually,” he said.
“The inaugural Kenya Airways flight to Abu Dhabi marks the culmination of three years of multilateral discussions and negotiations to have Kenya Airways and Etihad Airways work together towards the opening of this strategic route,” said the Kenya Airways Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni.
“The Abu Dhabi International Airport is a gateway to the Far East and countries such as Australia which Etihad flies to. We aim to provide the much needed link to customers who intend to travel to African countries through this code share agreement. That’s why this calls for a celebration,” he said.
Naikuni added that the flights to the new destination have been received warmly, with the first two flights to the new destination nearly filled to capacity, with bookings between now and August looking impressive.
The occasion was attended by Abu Dhabi’s Director of Tourism Ecosystems, Sultan Al Mutawa Al Daheri, who said that the new Kenya Airways destination has over the last nine years emerged to be one of the top tourism destinations, ranked position 10 in the year 2010 by Lonely Planet.
“Today, Lonely Planet recommends 142 things to do and see in Abu Dhabi emirate- and it’s watching us closely as we have much more planned. Kenya Airways passengers will find world class facilities at the Abu Dhabi International Airport hub to transit to other destinations. If they are visiting Abu Dhabi, they will have wide array of activities to choose from including PGA Golf Tournaments, F1 Grand Prix, and an annual gourmet festival to a Camel Festival,” Al Daheri said.
Kenya Airways will operate flights to Abu Dhabi, which is the airlines 61st destination, three times a week. This will complement the 10 flights that Kenya Airways has between its hub in Nairobi and Dubai.