05 Feb 2014 09:00

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is increasing its commitment to Africa with the establishment of a new sales region - Africa Sub-Sahara and Indian Ocean (AFI) 

This brings to seven the number of geographical regions that make up the global sales structure. The other regions include the United Arab Emirates, the Middle East, North Africa and Levant, Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific North and the Indian Subcontinent, and Asia Pacific South and Australasia. 

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Africa is quickly developing into the next big investment destination, with business growth on the rise and African economies amongst the fastest growing in the world.  

“We are experiencing strong passenger loads right across the continent, with passengers travelling through our hub in Abu Dhabi to the key commercial and tourism destinations in the Middle East, and further afield, to Europe, North America, the Indian Subcontinent, North Asia, South East Asia and Australia.” 

The new AFI region currently covers six countries across Africa, including: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, and the Republic of the Seychelles and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. 

Etihad Airways currently operates 90 flights per week between these countries and its hub in Abu Dhabi - and this is further extended regionally by its codeshare agreements with Royal Air Maroc, South African Airways, Kenya Airways, and its equity partner Air Seychelles.   

To oversee the airline’s activities across the new AFI region, Maurice Phohleli has been appointed to Vice President - Africa Sub-Sahara and Indian Ocean, and will be based in new offices in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Maurice joined Etihad Airways in 2009 and was initially based in Morocco, where he was responsible for the cross border management of the airline’s offices in Morocco, Egypt and Sudan.  In 2010 he was appointed General Manager, South Africa, and to General Manager, Nigeria and West Africa in 2012, ahead of the launch of the airline’s new route between Lagos and Abu Dhabi.

Prior to joining Etihad Airways, Maurice also worked as a regional representative for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) - and with the continent’s largest carrier, South African Airways.

Peter added: “Maurice has worked in the airline industry for over 20 years, and has a tremendous wealth of experience working in a commercial environment in Africa. His understanding of the different African markets will prove invaluable as he continues to drive commercial results and further enhance the strong relationships with the travel trade, corporate customers and our local partners across the region.”

Etihad Airways has been committed to the African continent since it opened its first route to Cairo in November 2004. Since then it has launched services to eight major cities in Africa and the Indian Ocean, including: Casablanca, Johannesburg, Khartoum, Lagos, Male, Mahé, Nairobi and Tripoli.

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