The FINANCIAL — Emirates' 18th destination in Africa, oil-rich Angola, came on stream yesterday with the launch of flights to Luanda.
Amongst the VIP delegation joining the inaugural flight from Dubai were Nigel Page, Emirates' Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Americas & Africa; Rui Mangueira, the Angolan Ambassador to the UAE; Julio Maiato, Angola's Consul General in Dubai and Salah Sharaf, Director General, Sharaf Group.
The three times a week service means Emirates now serves Africa's two biggest oil exporters. The award winning carrier has been serving Nigeria since 2004 and went double daily to Lagos in February.
The new non-stop air-link also comes at a time of aggressive trade growth between Dubai and Angola. In 2004, non-oil trade between the two places was around AED 235 million (64 million US dollars), according to statistics from Dubai World, the Dubai government's investment arm. Last year that figure had leapt to more than AED 2.9 billion (800 million US dollars), reflecting explosive growth of more than 1,200 percent.
Joaquim Cunha, Director, Luanda International Airport, said: “In the name of 4 de Fevereiro Airport, it is an honour for me to receive Emirates, one of the most prestigious airlines in the world. The airport has been undergoing extensive modernization and the inauguration of this new route means our efforts are bearing fruit. We wish this new service every success and believe the cooperation that has been developed with Emirates during the months of preparation is only the beginning of a much longer term relationship.”
Angola's Transport Minister, Augusto da Silva Tomás, said: "In a global world, where physical distances still exist, a flight connection between two steady developing countries enhances the potential for growth of both nations. The reputation of Emirates and the preference of Angola as one of the main destinations in Africa, demonstrates the enormous interest Angola is provoking worldwide."
An Airbus A330-200 will fly to Luanda on a Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Arranged in a three class configuration, EK 791 will leave Dubai at 1000hrs and touch down in Luanda at 1510hrs. The return flight, EK792 leaves Luanda at 1800hrs. It lands in Dubai around eight hours later at 0450hrs the following day.
Nigel Page, Emirates' Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Americas & Africa, said: "This is a key moment for Emirates in Africa. I want to thank the Angolan authorities in both the UAE and Angola for the assistance they have provided. Without their support, this new service would not have been possible. We'd also like to thank the hundreds of travellers who have already booked to travel with us. Our first flight from Dubai was almost full, which added to the great atmosphere on board as we headed towards our 18th point in Africa."
Angola is around five times the size of the UK and lies on the Atlantic coast of south-central Africa. It's the continent's second largest oil exporter after Nigeria. The new route will help support the nation's oil-led boom, emerging tourism market and heavy migrant worker traffic.
The country has four major ports along an expansive coastline and abundant natural resources. Apart from oil, they include diamonds, gold, iron, copper and uranium.
Luanda is the second African destination to be launched by Emirates this month. Flights to the FIFA 2010 World Cup host city of Durban began on October 1st.