Etihad Airways will launch a twice-weekly service to Belarus capital city of Minsk beginning August 5. The new air link is anticipated to boost the trade links and investment ties between the UAE and Belarus, with the volume of trade between the two countries standing at more than $30-40 million (Dh110-150m) per year.

The move follows talks held in Abu Dhabi last year between President of the UAE Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

Etihad Airways’ chief executive James Hogan said, “To make history as the first airline from the Gulf region to fly to Belarus is a great honor for Etihad Airways. We are extremely excited at the prospect of helping to strengthen the trade ties between the two countries through the new service.”

The announcement of the launch date coincides with a planned visit to Belarus by a high-level delegation of business leaders from the UAE to examine opportunities for trade and investment between the two countries.

Belarus Ambassador to the UAE Vladimir Sulimsky said, “We look forward to welcoming Etihad Airways to our capital city. There is a real appetite for business between our two countries which is sure to be boosted by the launch of this new, non-stop service between our two capital cities.”

Etihad will serve Minsk with one of its new Airbus A319 aircraft every Tuesday and Thursday. A third weekly flight will be added every Saturday beginning in October.

Located in Eastern Europe, Belarus borders Russia to the north and east, the Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the north. Minsk is the largest city in the country, with a population of 1.8 million.

With a central location in the heart of Europe, a rich cultural heritage and stunning scenery, Belarus is seeking to capitalize on its strong tourism potential.