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Shipping & Logistics

Airlines add new flights to reap from festive season

 Jambojet plane
Passengers disembark from a Jambojet plane at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Airlines have increased the number of flights to popular destinations in the country ahead of the festive season even as some carriers have been fully booked ahead of Christmas.

Budget airline Jambojet has added 54 additional flights per week on most of the routes that it flies as demand for air travel goes up.

According to the airline, they have increased return flights to Mombasa by 11, Ukunda six, Malinidi five, Kisumu two and Eldoret three. These are in additional to the already existing flights on these routes.

“We have added more flights on the route because of the high demand as we move towards the festive season,” said an official from the airline.

Alex Avedi, the chief executive officer of Safarilink Airline says they have also increased the number of flights to coastal and Kisumu routes.

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Mr Avedi said the move has been occasioned by high demand, that has seen the airline fully booked between now and next year.

The CEO said the carrier, which flies to Ukunda, Lamu and Vipingo, has added three additional flights to these costal routes and three more to Kisumu.

“We have seen high demand because of the festive season that has led to high demand for air travel,” said Mr Avedi in an interview with Shipping & Logistics.

Festive seasons normally come with high demand for travel as passengers seek to go to popular tourist destinations or upcountry to join their family members for festivities.

In the recent years, air travel has become more popular with Kenyans following introduction of the budget airlines that offer lower prices.

Weekend tickets especially to coastal Kenya and Lakeside City of Kisumu are always high because of increased demand caused by a rise in the number of passengers who want to spend the weekend out of Nairobi.

Ticket prices for Jambojet this week range from Sh4,300 to Sh7,800 depending on the time of flight, with late-hour flights tending to be cheaper.

Skyward Express will be charging between Sh5,500 and Sh8,950 in December depending on the day.

Fly540 will be charging between Sh12,000 and Sh5,300 in the first weeks of December with the fares skyrocketing to a high of between Sh12,000 and Sh15,000 in the Christmas week.

Economist Toni Watima says high demand for flying has been occasioned by low fares and presence of budget carriers which target a specific class of people.

“This has been untapped market for long and the presence of these budget carriers, which target a specific market has played a key role in increasing the number of passengers who seek air travel,” said Mr Watima.

For instance with the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) trains fully booked, he said the airlines will be targeting passengers who travel first class on the train to top up a few cash for airticket.

The SGR passenger train service between Nairobi and Mombasa is fully booked on the week to Christmas, forceing those going for early holiday at the coast to seek alternatives like roads and air.

The trains are fully booked between December 21 to Monday 23 with a few seats on the eve of Christmas expected be filled in the coming days as passengers are doing early bookings.

Kenya Railways has previously been increasing coaches on the Nairobi-Mombasa line, since the SGR launched in June 2017, to match rising demand that has denied bus operators new customers. A train has capacity for 1,260 passengers with 15 economy class and three first class coaches. It also comes with a luggage carrier with a total capacity of 70 tonnes.

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