Etihad Airways’ inaugural flight to Kenya today touched down at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi.

The 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.

The airline 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 of this year, building on existing services to Egypt, South Africa, Morocco and Sudan.

A senior Etihad Airways delegation, led by Chief Commercial Officer Peter Baumgartner, was on the inaugural Nairobi flight.

Executives from the airline will meet government officials and local tourism representatives during the visit to Kenya. The delegation will also host a evening reception to celebrate Etihad Airways’ new flights.

Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer James Hogan said: “We are delighted to introduce Etihad Airways to East Africa. This year will see considerable growth for us within Africa as a whole, as we observe strong and emerging markets across the continent.

“In particular, this 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.”

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.

Nairobi schedule, effective Sunday, April 1, 2012:

Flight #

Departs

Departure Time

Arrives

Arrival Time

Frequency

EY641

Abu Dhabi (AUH)

9:30

Nairobi (NBO)

13:20

Daily

EY642

Nairobi (NBO)

14:30

Abu Dhabi (AUH)

20:15

Daily