By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi airline's CEO says he is targeting strong growth areas in emerging economies
Etihad Airways on Wednesday announced it would start a daily service from Abu Dhabi to Nairobi from April 1 next year.
Nairobi becomes the 72nd destination in Etihad's global network, the airline said in a statement.
"This new route will allow Etihad to tap into large traffic flows between East Africa, North Asia, and the Indian Subcontinent," the airline's CEO James Hogan said.
"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."
In 2010 more than two million tourists visited Kenya, including some 295,000 from the Middle East.
Etihad began 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 five percent from April 1.
The announcement comes as Nairobi Airport undergoes an expansion 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.