Budget airlines sold out as travel demand soars


Passengers aboard Kenya Airways Embraer 170 from Nairobi alight from the plane in Kisumu Airport. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NMG

Air passengers are staring at nightmares this festive season as the budget airlines heading to the popular destinations are sold out on the eve of Christmas.

Popular destinations such as Malindi and Ukunda in South Coast are fully booked on December 24 with the closest availability on Thursday going for Sh16,400 on Jambojet.

Fly 748 to Mombasa on December 24 and Ukunda is fully booked as well with the closest available seat for Wednesday selling at Sh18,724 (Mombasa) and Sh12,840 (Diani). The Kisumu route is also fully sold out from today to Friday on this airline.

An increase in the cost of air tickets has been occasioned by the high demand of passengers who are seeking to travel for holidays ahead of the festive season.

Skyward Express is also fully booked from December 22-24 on the Mombasa, Ukunda and Malindi routes.

Surprisingly, the Eldoret route, which has not been so popular with flights has recorded full bookings from December 22 to Christmas day on Skyward Express.

Jambojet has two of its four flights on the Eldoret route fully booked with the available flights in the morning and evening going for as high as Sh14,400 for a one-way ticket.

A one-way ticket on budget carrier Jambojet to Kisumu is selling at Sh15,400 on December 24. The cost to this lakeside city has increased three folds since last month when one would pay as low as Sh5,300 on the route.

Kisumu route is one of the popular destinations in Kenya when it comes to air travel, competing with tourist hotspots towns of coastal Kenya.

The high demand has seen airlines increase their frequencies to the popular routes such as Mombasa with demand outstripping the available capacity.

For instance, all the eight Jambojet flights to Mombasa on December 24 have been fully booked, underlying the high demand for passengers seeking air travel.

Kenya Airways has some availability to Mombasa on December 24 with the cost of one-way ticket-selling at a high of Sh20,000.

Passengers using roads have also not been spared with most buses having been fully booked with a few remaining costing an arm and a leg.

For instance, passengers travelling from Mombasa to Kitale and Kakamega are paying Sh3,500 from Sh2,000 previously.

Bus companies have reported having been fully booked ahead of Christmas, which will be celebrated this Saturday.

An online booking App Buupas, which is used by popular bus companies such as Easy Coach, Modern Coast and Greenline shows that there are very limited seats available.

Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is fully booked on December 24 both the express and inter-county train heading to Mombasa.

Recently, Kenya Railways launched a metre gauge passenger train to Mombasa with initial plans to have the locomotive ply the route on December 17 and 24, however, high demand from passengers saw the company put an additional train on the line yesterday (Tuesday).

The cost of air tickets is expected to come down from December 25 with the decline in demand but it will shoot again starting January.

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