Shipping & Logistics

Return of coast flights raises hope for tourism recovery

Kenya Airways aircraft

Kenya Airways aircraft grounded at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on April 3, 2020.

Summary

  • KQ had stopped its flights to Nairobi since the Presidential announcement on cessation of all movement into and out of the five counties.
  • Due to demand in the region, other carriers introduced flights between Kisumu, Eldoret, Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu and even Garissa.
  • Tony Gathogo, KQ Station Manager at Moi International Airport said all Covid-19 protocols would be observed following the resumption of business.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ (KQ) has resumed its flights to Moi International Airport in Mombasa after President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the travel ban into and out of the five zoned counties.

The move followed the reduction in the Covid-19 infection rate.

The first Kenya Airways flight landed at the airport on Monday coming as a relief to the tourism sector whose gradual recovery was halted by the nearly month-long lockdown that disrupted travel and spending plans of domestic tourists around the Easter holiday.

KQ had stopped its flights to Nairobi since the Presidential announcement on cessation of all movement into and out of the five counties.

Due to demand in the region, other carriers introduced flights between Kisumu, Eldoret, Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu and even Garissa.

Tony Gathogo, KQ Station Manager at Moi International Airport said all Covid-19 protocols would be observed following the resumption of business.

“We are excited about the President’s directive on cessation of movement’s measures. Kenya Airways and the airport are well prepared. We have ensured that all Covid-19 protocols as guided by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation are adequately addressed and protocols observed,” he stated.

Folowing the resumption, Mr Gathogo said the airline would start with two flights a day between Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi and Moi International Airport. The trips will then increase depending on the demand.

“We are starting slow with two fights a day, one arriving at 11am and another at 1600hrs and departing at 4:45pm. We look forward to increasing the number of frequency based on the demand,” he said.

Mr Gathogo added that the local aviation sector was already showing signs of improvement as more people are expected to travel between the two counties.

Meanwhile, other airlines including Fly 540 have also resumed with minimal flights as they monitor and on the market frequencies.

Ms Getrude Saudi, the Fly 540 manger in Mombasa said passengers had rescheduled their bookings previously cancelled due to the lockdown.

The airline will be flying twice daily between Mombasa and Nairobi and may add more flights depending on the demand. Other than Moi International Airport, the airline will also be operating in other coastal tourist towns including Lamu.

With a slump in international tourism, stakeholders at the Coastal region largely depended on domestic flights and the SGR for local tourists who frequented the Coast region from Nairobi during the weekends.

This is expected to in turn revive the tourism and business industry which had stalled due to lack of business from Nairobi, one of its source domestic markets.

“With the movement, we know that hotels will now be able to hold conferences and those that had cut operations will resume as we observe the trends,” said Kenya Coast Tourist Association Chief Executive Julius Owino.

Tourism is one Kenya’s biggest foreign exchange earners raking the country billions of shillins annually. Since Covid-19 struck, however, it has been among the worst hit with investors resorting to job cuts and shutdowns to stay afloat.