Etihad Airways return to Nairobi put on ice

Passengers board an Etihad Airways aircraft at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Etihad Airways has put on ice plans to re-introduce passenger flights on the Abu Dhabi-Nairobi route, the second delay since announcing the scheduled resumption.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier told the Business Daily that the flights would resume at an unknown later date, without disclosing the reasons for the postponement.

The airline initially targeted May 1 for the return of flights connecting the United Arab Emirates capital and Nairobi. It was, however, postponed to June 1, with the airline citing reasons beyond its control.

"Etihad Airways has delayed the launch of its flights to Nairobi for reasons beyond its control and apologises to its guests for any inconvenience this may have caused. We continue to plan for our future return to the Kenyan market, which we remain committed to," an airline representative told Business Daily via email.

Industry sources attribute the delays to regulatory challenges with the Kenyan government.

The airline stopped operating on the route in 2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

When it resumes, the flights will restore commercial non-stop passenger connections between the two cities, and travellers from Kenya will be able to connect through Etihad flights to the US, Europe, India and South-East Asia.

Africa has become a lucrative market for Middle East carriers looking to connect passengers to the rest of the world.

Apart from Etihad Airways, Dubai-based Emirates has been expanding aggressively taking market share from African carriers including Kenya Airways.

Belgian national carrier Brussels Airlines on Monday re-introduced its passenger flights on the Brussels-Nairobi route connecting passengers between Nairobi and the European Union capital.

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