Ethiopia Airlines has beaten Kenya Airways in launching direct flights to Namibia.
Although Kenya Airways signed a new code-share agreement with Air Namibia way back in 2013 for direct flights, the deal is still in the freezer five years later.
The deal would have paved the way for direct flights between the airlines’ Nairobi and Windhoek hubs through Johannesburg in South Africa and Lusaka in Zambia.
The move would have extended the national carrier’s footprints in southern Africa region.
Under the code-share agreement, Kenya Airways was to place its ‘KQ’ code on Air Namibia flights from Johannesburg and Lusaka to Windhoek.
In turn, Air Namibia was to place its ‘SW’ code on Kenya Airways flights from Lusaka and Johannesburg to Nairobi.
Our queries to the national carrier on why the project stalled midstream were unanswered by the time of going to press.
Ethiopian Airlines took the opportunity to launch three weekly direct flights to Namibia in October and further signed a code-share agreement.
The idea of direct flights from Nairobi to Windhoek was conceptualised in mid 2000 when former Tana River Governor Hussein Dado was the Kenya’s high commissioner to Namibia.
The idea was pushed because Kenyans travelling to Namibia are compelled to get South Africa transit visas, which take a minimum of seven working days to process.
The direct flight was therefore aimed at cutting costs and delays.
Then Kenya Airways chief executive Titus Naikuni at the signing ceremony in Windhoek had said the move would facilitate convenient travel for passengers, and would enable the airline to contribute towards spurring sustainable development in Africa.
The two airlines, according to Naikuni, expected the agreement to allow them both to expand their regional network through their mutual services and “facilitate the provision of competitive and convenient travel choices to their respective clients”.