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Gulf Air withdraws from Nairobi route

Gulf Air Chief Commercial Officer Karim Makhlouf announcing the Gulf Air return to Entebbe, Uganda in 2011. Gulf Air is set to quit the Kenyan market due to commercial reasons making it the third airline to quit the country this year. File
Gulf Air Chief Commercial Officer Karim Makhlouf announcing the Gulf Air return to Entebbe, Uganda in 2011. Gulf Air is set to quit the Kenyan market due to commercial reasons making it the third airline to quit the country this year. File 

Gulf Air is set to quit the Kenyan market due to commercial reasons making it the third airline to quit the country this year.

The national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain on Tuesday announced that its last flight on the Nairobi Bahrain route will be on November 13 ending Gulf Air’s operations in Kenya that started 15 months ago.

“Gulf Air regrets to announce the suspension of its services between Bahrain and Nairobi with effect from 13 November for commercial reasons,” said a statement posted on the airline’s website.

Its entry into the Kenyan market was part of the airline’s strategy to strengthening its regional network connecting the wider Africa.

The announcement comes barely a month after British-based Virgin Atlantic Airways stopped flights between Nairobi-London citing increased fuel costs, rising taxes and low passenger numbers.

In September South African low-cost airline 1Time withdrew its flights between Johannesburg and Mombasa due to its poor financial situation. The flight, which was introduced earlier in the year, dealt the country’s tourism business a blow.

Unlike Virgin ,which faced major competition from British Airways and Kenya Airways on the Nairobi-London route, there is no other airline operating direct flights to Bahrain. However, the airline’s strategy to connect passengers from Nairobi, through its hub, to other destination is facing major competition from other Middle East carriers, European airline sand Kenya Airways.

Middle Eastern airlines have been increasing their presence in the country with Etihad, UAE’s national carriers, having launched in April 2012. Dubai based Emirates has remained a major player in the Kenya with daily flights to Nairobi threatening Kenya Airways market share.

Earlier this year the airline increased frequencies to Nairobi from five to seven a week.

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