(MENAFN Press) Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, today hosted a special visit by the Prime Minister of Ireland, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, at its Abu Dhabi headquarters
Mr Kenny, in the Arabian Gulf region as part of an Enterprise Ireland trade and investment mission to promote greater commercial ties with Ireland, was met by James Hogan, Etihad Airways' President and Chief Executive Officer, and members of the airline's senior management, which includes several Irish nationals
The Irish Trade Mission, led by Mr Kenny, included H.E. Patrick Hennessy, Irish Ambassador to UAE; Julie Sinnamon, Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Ireland; and Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Ireland
Mr Kenny met Irish members of the Etihad Airways workforce during the visit. The airline currently employs 176 Irish nationals, including 115 members of staff based in Abu Dhabi and a team of 34 in Dublin
James Hogan said: "Etihad Airways is proud to have formed strong commercial and cultural ties with Ireland which has been built upon further by today's visit by An Taoiseach and the Irish Trade Mission to our Abu Dhabi headquarters
"These ties are supported by our ten flights a week between Abu Dhabi and Dublin, the strong Irish contingent in our workforce, as well as our equity and codeshare partnership with Aer Lingus, and our sponsorship of the GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship.
Speaking at the event, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: 'I am delighted to be here today at the Etihad Airways headquarters in Abu Dhabi. This gives me a very welcome opportunity to publicly acknowledge the strong commercial and cultural ties that Etihad has developed with Ireland.
"This is something we greatly value and I am confident that we will see this relationship velop further over the coming years to our mutual benefit. I am also delighted to meet with the many Irish supplier companies here today who are successfully supplying products and services to Etihad. It is strong evidence of the opportunities in this market for ambitious and innovative Irish companies.
Mr Kenny also presented Mr Hogan with a certificate of Irish descendancy, which traces his Irish family lineage back to the 1800s
In parallel with the meeting between Mr Kenny and Mr Hogan, a workshop took place at the Etihad Airways Training Academy between representatives from Irish aviation companies and suppliers and their counterparts in Etihad Airways
These companies included Botany Weaving Mill, Intuition, Cut-e, Miagen, College Ireland Aviation Services (CIAS), Fexco, Monex, Mobile Travel Technologies, Vibe Training, Solgari, Eirtech Aviation
Etihad Airways has a number of key investments in Ireland including a line maintenance facility and premium lounge at Dublin Airport, as well as cultural partnerships with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) hurling and The Gathering Ireland 2013
In 2013 Etihad Airways carried more than 240,000 passengers on its Dublin flights, an increase of 8 per cent on the total carried in 2012. The airline also carried its one millionth passenger on the Dublin route in 2013
Recognising the importance of the Abu Dhabi “ Dublin route, Etihad Airways has adapted its flight network to ensure strong connectivity with destinations popular with Ireland, which include Australia, India, Thailand and the Philippines
Photo caption: Prime Minister of Ireland, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny (centre left) with James Hogan, Etihad Airways' President and Chief Executive (centre right), and Irish staff members at the airline's Abu Dhabi headquarters