Etihad Airways is planning to launch a daily service to Dar es Salaam, providing the first direct flights between Abu Dhabi and Tanzania’s largest city while complementing the rapid pace of growth in the various types of economic interaction between the UAE and Tanzania.

Etihad’s daily Abu Dhabi – Dar es Salaam schedule will commence on 1 December 2015, flying travellers to Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport aboard Airbus A320s.

“Dar es Salaam is an important new route on Etihad Airways’ global network,” noted James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways. “It builds on our existing presence in Africa and supports the close trading relationship between the UAE and Tanzania.”

In particular, Tanzania is the UAE’s largest trade partner in East Africa, with a non-oil trade worth $2.23bn in 2013, and significantly ahead of Kenya at $1.45bn. Total non-oil trade with the region hit $6.3bn in 2013, excluding bilateral free zone trade worth an additional $3bn.

Kilimanjaro Airport, located close to the seat of the East African Community in Arusha, is also experiencing a 24% increase in passenger traffic – bolstered by routes with Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines flown since 2012 – and expects to handle 1,055,000 passengers this year.

Julius Nyerere Airport currently handles 1.5 million passengers, but a $36.4m expansion set to begin later this year at Kilimanjaro Airport could quickly bring it level with Dar es Salaam.

Open shop

Tanzania is objectively one of the top five fastest-growing air travel markets in the world in terms of percentage, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), alongside the Central African Republic, Madagascar, Burundi; and in the Gulf, Kuwait.

The country is also a critical logistics hub for six surrounding land-locked countries: Burundi, the DRC, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia, and between the Serengeti and Zanzibar was named one of the world’s most sought after leisure destinations in 2013.

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The UAE is directly involved in Tanzania through operations such as ENOC Africa, a Dubai firm subsidiary with an annual turnover of $15bn in oil and gas that recently announced plans to develop the East African sector by investing in “modern storage facilities” across the region.

Earlier this year, the UAE’s, Al Futtaim Group also acquired a 91.6% stake for $86.3m in Kenya’s CMC Holdings, which owns a 33% stake in a Kenya vehicle firm and its related subsidiaries in Uganda and Tanzania, while UAE hotelier Rotana announced plans to launch a property in Dar es Salaam by 2020.

Etisalat, however, is considering of the sale of its 65% stake in Zantel (Zanzibar Telecom), Tanzania’s fourth largest wireless provider and largest Internet provider following a dismal 41% one-year decline in subscription to the operator from 3.08 million to 1.81 million users.

Uganda to sign double taxation trade deal with the UAE