Competition in the domestic air travel business has intensified following the entry of new players, a move that has helped cut ticket prices especially on the Mombasa route.
The coastal city route has always been one of the most expensive in the country given high demand resulting from both local and international tourists.
Three local airlines have been licensed for domestic operations in the last eight months raising competition for customers. Fare to Mombasa has now dropped to a low of Sh4,300 from a high of between Sh6,500 and Sh7,500.
The new kid on the block is Fly Trister, which is operated by Buff Air Services. The airline has caused jitters on the route with a one way introductory fare set at Sh4,333.
Local airlines have been expanding to new routes in the last two years on rising demand for air travel.
The far-flung region of Wajir, which has been lagging in air transport, is now covered.
Jambojet charges Sh4,200 one way to Wajir town. The fare is affordable given that only a handful of airlines fly the route. The launch of Jambojet some years back has witnessed increased competition on local routes, bringing down the cost of tickets to as low as Sh3,200 on some routes from a high of Sh13,000.
Local airline Silverstone Air Services ventured onto the Kisumu and Mombasa routes last year, targeting tourists on the Western and Coastal circuits.
The airline recently launched direct flights between Kisumu and Mombasa. Silverstone mooted flights from Nairobi to Kisumu and Ukunda, having previously operated as a charter-only carrier.
The airline operates five planes on its local routes, consisting of two Dash-8 and three Fokker 50 aircraft.
The airline launched daily flights to Lodwar this month, raising competition for customers on the route that is also served by Fly540, Safarilink and several other carriers.
Nairobi has witnessed an increase in domestic aviation seat capacity compared to the international average in the first seven months of 2017, according to travel analysis firm ForwardKeys.
Nairobi is the only airport among the top 10 in Africa to witness huge growth in domestic seat capacity, while Lagos’ capacity slumped on both the local and international fronts.
Statistics show that 147,129 passengers moved through the 10 smallest airports and airstrips for which the Kenya Airports Authority publishes data, a 10 per cent growth over a similar period last year.
The domestic air market has seen rising demand in the recent years as more Kenyans opt to fly due to rising incomes and construction of new airstrips and airports.