United Arab Emirates carrier Flydubai Wednesday started flights to Mombasa from Dubai in a move that looks set to raise competition against Kenya Airways (KQ) that also operates on the route.
The carrier has deployed a Boeing 737 type of aircraft on the route, flying four times per week to Moi International Airport from Terminal Three at the Dubai International Airport (DXB).
According to Flydubai online booking, fares from Dubai to Mombasa start from 846 United Arab Emirates Dirhams (Sh37,000) which matches KQ's starting fares on economy class.
Flybai will be flying to Mombasa on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Mombasa International Airport Manager Abel Gogo said the entry of FlyDubai into Mombasa is a good move as it will heighten competition for customers among carriers, a move that will result in a drop in passenger fare.
"The entry of Fly Dubai is good for Mombasa as a region. With this expansion, we are going to witness increased movement of business people and tourists into Mombasa," said Mr Gogo Wednesday.
Flydubai is launching direct flights to Mombasa eight years after former Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia granted it the rights in 2016.
The airline has become the first national carrier with direct flights from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the Kenyan coastal city.
The airline plans to partner with Emirates to codeshare the route to offer passengers more options for connections through Dubai’s international aviation hub.
With the launch of operations to Mombasa, Flydubai has now grown its network in Africa to 11 destinations in 10 countries, including Addis Ababa, Alexandria, Asmara, Dar es Salaam, Djibouti, Entebbe, Hargeisa, Juba, Mogadishu and Zanzibar.
“Dubai has seen steady growth in investment from Africa since Expo 2020 with more than 26,000 African companies registered with Dubai Chamber. Our direct flights to Mombasa and our growing operations in Africa will further support free flows of trade and tourism between the UAE and the East African markets,” said Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith.
The entry of Flydubai into Mombasa comes barely a few months after Kenya granted Ethiopian Airlines more flights into Mombasa.
Kenya granted Ethiopian Airlines rights to fly twice directly into Mombasa every week last year in July keeping with the open skies policy, setting the stage for intensified competition with KQ.
The open skies policy requires easing access and rules of use of national airports for foreign airlines.
KQ had earlier argued that Kenya risks entering into one-sided deals with foreign carriers in the policy since there is no reciprocity guaranteed.