Etihad to refund money on failure to fly Nairobi

Passengers board an Etihad Airways aircraft at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Hundreds of customers who booked flights on Etihad Airways to fly on the Abu Dhabi-Nairobi route starting June 1 are now demanding to be refunded the extra booking fees they incurred to get tickets from other carriers after the airline put on ice plans to restart passenger flights on the route.

Affected clients, who requested anonymity, said the delay in refunding airfares for tickets sourced via travel agents had caused a huge financial strain on them.

They questioned why the airline announced resumption of flights on the route before putting its house in order.

Travelers had booked to fly with the airline on diverse dates either directly or via booking agents after the carrier announced plans to restart passenger flights on the route effective June 1.

The plan has since been halted with the Abu-Dhabi-based carrier citing reasons beyond its control.

“Myself and family totaling 10 are attending my nephew's wedding in Mombasa on July 6. We booked Etihad to fly out from London on June 29th to Nairobi - only to be informed by our booking agent - not Etihad - that the flight was not happening.

“We have been told Etihad will refund us but minus the agent booking fees. Had we known these flights were not finalised, we would not have booked,” said a disgruntled customer.

Etihad Airways Regional Manager for Communications and Public Affairs Anna-SophiePoll said the airline is working round the clock to process refunds for earlier tickets that were booked in the next 10-15 days, minus the extra charges customers incurred to book other flights after the cancellation.

“The target is to process refunds within 10-15 working days, though in some circumstances, it may take longer. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused and appreciate our customers’ understanding and patience,” she said last week.

The airline initially had plans to resume flights on the route on May 1 but later pushed it to June 1. This did not, however, happen.

While the airline did not disclose reasons for pushing forward the launch of the flight to an unknown date, industry sources have attributed the change of mind by the carrier to delays in getting regulatory approvals from the Government of Kenya.

The airline, however, insisted that it is committed to resuming flights between the United Arab Emirates capital to Nairobi, but declined to give a definite date as to when this will happen.

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