August 6, 2008

Etihad Becomes First Gulf Airline to Fly to Belarus

Etihad becomes first gulf airline to fly to Belarus

Etihad Airways became the first airline from the Gulf region to fly to Belarus this week when the Abu Dhabi-based carrier launched a twice-weekly service to the country's capital, Minsk.

The inaugural Abu Dhabi to Minsk flight on Tuesday 5 August was met on arrival with a traditional 'water-arch' provided by the airport authorities as it taxied to its parking bay.

On arrival, passengers were greeted by a VIP welcoming committee, consisting of the Belarusian government's minister of transport, Vladimir Sosnovsky and vice minister of tourism, Cheslav Shulga.

The new air link is anticipated to boost significantly trade and investment ties between the UAE and Belarus with the volume of trade between the two countries standing at more than Dhs110-150 million per year.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways' chief executive, said: "To make history as the first airline from the Gulf region to fly to Belarus is a great honour for Etihad Airways. We are extremely excited to help to strengthen further the trade ties between the two countries through the launch of our new Minsk service."

Minsk is the largest city in Belarus, with a population of 1.8 million people and is the country's major industrial centre with more than 250 factories and manufacturing plants. With a central location in the heart of Europe, a rich cultural heritage and stunning scenery, Belarus is also seeking to exploit its strong tourism potential.

It is the third new destination to be launched by Etihad this month. On Friday 1 August the airline added to its flying programme to India when it launched daily flights from Abu Dhabi to both Chennai (Madras) and Kozhikode (Calicut).

Minsk brings the total number of global destinations now served by Etihad to 48, a number which will rise to 50 by the end of 2008 with the launch of new services to Moscow in Russia and Almaty in Kazhakstan.

The Belarusian capital becomes the tenth destination in Etihad's flight network in Europe which already includes Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, London, Manchester, Milan, Munich and Paris.

Etihad operates one of its new Airbus A319 aircraft on the twice- weekly Minsk service, configured to carry 104 passengers with 20 in business class and 84 in economy class. The service operates every Tuesday and Thursday. A third weekly flight will be added every Saturday from October 2008.

Flight EY061 departs Abu Dhabi on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9.45am, arriving in Minsk at 2.25pm the same day. The return flight, EY062, departs Minsk on the same days at 3.15pm, arriving in Abu Dhabi at 9.40pm.

Photo caption (left to right): Celebrating the arrival of Etihad's inaugural flight to Minsk, Geert Boven, Etihad's executive vice president sales and services and captain Tony Rose take part in a traditional Belarusian bread and salt welcome ceremony. Etihad launched non-stop daily services from its Abu Dhabi home-base to the Belarus capital on 5 August 2008. 2008 Al Bawaba (

Originally published by By Al-Bawaba Reporters.

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