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Domestic carriers add flights as travellers rush to beat lockdown

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Travellers board Jambojet airline. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Local carriers on Friday added flights to meet an increase in demand for travel ahead of the movement ban in to and out of Nairobi effective midnight.

Budget carriers Jambojet and Safarilink announced that they added flights on the Nairobi-Mombasa route.

Jambojet said that the new flight would leave the coastal city of Mombasa at 7.30 pm and arrive in Nairobi at 8.45 pm on Friday. The flight from Nairobi would depart at 5.50 pm, arriving in Mombasa at 7.05 pm.

Safarilink, in a statement to its customers, said an additional Mombasa to Nairobi flight would depart at 8 pm.

Travellers are racing against time as suspension of movement in to and out of Nairobi takes effect on Friday midnight.

President Uhuru Kenyatta banned air, road and rail movement into and out of Nairobi and four other counties effective Saturday forcing people with travel plans to scramble for transport to return to their homes.

The other counties are Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu, and Nakuru.

“Due to the rising demand of passengers returning back home, we have added an additional flight between Nairobi and Mombasa this evening,” Jambojet announced on Friday.

Before the new flight, Jambojet operated six flights between Nairobi and Mombasa with tickets per trip ranging Sh4,100 and Sh8,100.

Domestic airlines are staring at a bleak future as the ban comes at a time the aviation industry has been struggling to stay afloat since the resumption of flights in August last year.

"Tne new travel restrictions imposed by the State affects domestic carriers as well. This is a big blow to tourism too. We may have to close operations again. We are trying to negotiate with the State to exempt us to allow us to evacuate stranded international tourists in the various game parks," said Safarilink CEO Alex Avedi.

Hoteliers have also reported guests have been cancelling bookings for the Easter holiday since the President's lockdown announcement.

- Additional reporting by Bonface Otieno