Domestic flight fares have fallen by up to 75 per cent after the end of Christmas season on reduced demand.
Those travelling between Kisumu and Nairobi by Jambojet will Monday pay Sh3,500 one-way irrespective of the departure station, marking a sharp drop from a high of Sh14,500 they paid on December 21 flying from the capital to the port city — a 75 per cent drop.
“Every year, the demand for air travel goes down immediately after the first week of January — business travel picks up towards the third week of January hence fare go down based on demand,” said Jambojet managing director and CEO Allan Kilavuka.
Rival Fly540 flight to Nairobi from Kisumu is priced at Sh5,770 as the carriers cut flights to two a day from three in the days to Christmas.
The air operators expect the prices to remain low in coming days as travellers return from holidays to settle down at their workstations or businesses.
The December fares on domestic flights rose faster compared to bus charges and international flights as Kenyans increasingly turn to planes for trips to western Kenya and Mombasa.
Passengers flying to Nairobi from Mombasa will today pay Sh7,500 on Jambojet and Sh5,500 tomorrow while those heading to the coastal town from the capital city will today pay Sh5,500. Jambojet fares to Mombasa from Nairobi rose to about Sh12,500 ahead of Christmas.
Fly540 has no flights to Eldoret from Nairobi Monday while Jambojet has cut fares on the route to Sh4,500. The route remains the cheapest among the major domestic flight routes due to low demand. However, a one-way ticket to Eldoret from Nairobi on December 23 and 24 retailed at Sh9,500 and Sh8,500 respectively on Jambojet.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statics (KNBS) says domestic airfares on average rose 18.43 per cent to Sh21,230 in December for return flights compared to the same month in 2017.
This was higher than country bus fares that rose 17.5 per cent to Sh1,245 for a 350-kilometre journey, which is the equivalent to travelling from Nairobi to Kisumu, in the period under review. Introduction of new carriers like Jambojet (2014), Silverstone and Fly Sax has brought down airfares low enough to attract bus travellers into the air for the first time.
This backed by the growing appetite for local flights by the middle class, especially on routes like Nairobi and Kisumu, has seen a rise in air travel with the promise of a 50-minute flight on an eight-hour bus ride on a highway beset by tailbacks.
The KNBS data show that domestic passenger travel rose from 2.6 million passengers in 2013 to 4.1 million in 2017, reflecting a growth of 57.6 per cent.