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Abu Dhabi Airport,
United Arab Emirates
Etihad Cargo, a division of Etihad Airways, continues to fulfil its promise to 'bring Abu Dhabi to the world' with one of its most exciting projects to date - carrying two traditional Arabian dhow sailing craft to Ireland for the Volvo Ocean Race finale.
The vessels, each measuring 22 feet in length and weighing a total of 1 tonne, were carefully loaded onboard the Etihad Cargo A330-200 freighter aircraft for the special charter flight from Abu Dhabi to Shannon in County Clare yesterday, 1 July.
They are part of a Volvo Ocean Race maritime cultural exchange programme involving the Emirates Heritage Club Abu Dhabi, the Irish Business Council Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi's Al Hosn University, and Galway race finale organisers Let's do it Global.
Kevin Knight, Etihad Airways’ Chief Strategy and Planning Officer, said: “Etihad Cargo regularly carries valuable and cultural artefacts and we are very proud to be chosen for this special maritime project.
It was a complex process that involved carefully placing the dhows into containers, loading them onto the aircraft and then flying them to Ireland.
Once the dhows arrive in Ireland they will take part in a special competition against two traditional Galway hooker sailing boats as part of celebrations to mark the end of the six-team Volvo Ocean Race.
Galway is the last stop on the 39,000 nautical mile, nine-month, round-the-world sailing race which has taken in 10 destinations, including Abu Dhabi, over nine gruelling legs and across four oceans.
In addition to carrying the dhows to the Volvo Ocean Race finale, the Etihad Airways brand will also be seen in Galway on the sails and hull of 'Azzam,' the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team's boat which is taking part in the race.
Etihad Airways is a lead sponsor of the team and was also the presenting sponsor of the fortnight-long race stopover in Abu Dhabi in January 2012.
During the stopover, a 90-year-old Galway traditional sailboat also participated in festivities marking the race's visit to Abu Dhabi. The visit of the dhows to Ireland is the return leg of the unique cultural exchange.
The safe delivery of the dhows once again demonstrates Etihad’s commitment to Ireland and the deep roots it has established within the local communities across the country. Etihad Airways operates 10 flights a week from Abu Dhabi to Dublin and has carried more than 820,000 passengers between the two capitals since it began flying the route in July, 2007.
The airline has a premium lounge at Dublin Airport, an engineering maintenance facility and has conducted recruitment drives across the country. It also recently renewed its sponsorship of the Gaelic Athletic Association, signing a five-year deal.