Flydubai will launch a new route to the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo from April. The airline is the first UAE carrier to operate to the destination and the route announcement comes amid a recent flare-up of ethnic violence which has forced thousands to flee to neighbouring Uganda in the last few days. Much of the eastern part of the country is off-limits according to western travel advisories, such as the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, though Kinshasa, on the far western edge of the country, is not included in this.
Kinshasa, a city of 11 million, is situated on the Congo River, opposite Brazzaville, the capital of the neighbouring Republic of the Congo. The cities are the two closest capitals on earth after Rome and the Vatican City; Kinshasa is also Africa's third largest urban area after Cairo and Lagos. Points of interest include Livingstone Falls, a series of enormous rapids on the river, named after explorer David Livingstone.
The route, which will start on April 15, will operate via Entebbe in Uganda, just an hour's flight away. In recent years, the Central African countries of the DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Congo have become increasingly popular for "gorilla tourism" in these countries' spectacular mountainous national parks, which are the last places on earth to see the animals.
Burundi's proximity to Rwanda has also seen it draw adventurous travellers. Considerable investment has been made in developing high-end tourist lodges, and permits for gorilla trekking cost thousands of dollars.
Flydubai chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith said Africa was one of the most important markets for the UAE for both trade and tourism, and that the route was designed to increase connectivity on the African continent. Return tickets with Flydubai cost from Dh2,705 return including taxes. The complete flight, including the stop in Entebbe, takes 9 hours.