Middle East: Etihad becomes first Gulf carrier 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 A319 Abu Dhabi to Minsk flight on Tuesday 5 August was met on arrival with a traditional ‘waterarch’ provided by the airport authorities […]


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 A319 Abu Dhabi to Minsk flight on Tuesday 5 August was met on arrival with a traditional ‘waterarch’ 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 nearly Dhs150 million (US$40.8 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 1 August the airline added to its flying programme to India when it launched daily flights with A320s from Abu Dhabi to both Chennai (Madras) and Kozhikode (Calicut).

"India is an enormously important market for Etihad and one we are very keen to expand further. The appetite for air travel between Abu Dhabi and India shows no sign of relenting and we hope to grow our Indian flying programme even further in the future, " Hogan added.

The coastal city of Kozhikode becomes Etihad’s third destination in Kerala, adding to its highly successful flights from Abu Dhabi to Kochi (Cochin) and state capital, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). Etihad now operates 42 flights a week from the UAE to India, with flights from Abu Dhabi also serving the commercial capital Mumbai and the national capital New Delhi.